Former Afghanistan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who headed the High Peace Council negotiating with the Taliban, was assassinated Tuesday in a bomb attack at his Kabul home. The incident came just days after last week's attack by suicide bombers and gunmen on the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul, which U.S. officials suspect was the work of the Haqqani network.
The Rabbani killing dealt a potentially devastating blow to the reconciliation effort with the Taliban to end 10 years of war, The New York Times reported.
Immediately after the assassination, members of Afghanistan's Northern Alliance made up ethnic Tajiks and Hazaras, and also some prominent Pashtuns, told television audiences the Taliban could not be trusted.
"This is a lesson for all of us that we shouldn't fool ourselves that this group, who has carried out so many crimes against the people of Afghanistan, are willing to make peace," said Abdullah Abdullah, a former presidential candidate and the alliance leader.
"We are up against people who don't believe in any humanity," he said, adding it was time for Afghan President Hamid Karzai "to wake up."
Karzai, who was in New York for the annual U.N. General Assembly session, met with U.S. President Barack Obama and the two leaders later told reporters progress toward a peaceful and prosperous Afghanistan would continue, the U.S. Department of Defense said on its Web site.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the Rabbani assassination, but the Times report said several groups could have been involved, including the Taliban, the Haqqani network and even elements of al-Qaida.
Rabbani was Afghanistan's president from 1992 until his ouster by the Taliban in 1996.