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Turban bomber who killed former Afghan president ‘was from Pakistan’

The suicide bomber who killed Afghanistan’s former president and peace envoy Burhanuddin Rabbani was Pakistani, according to the Afghan government, heaping more pressure on Islamabad to tackle insurgents headquartered in its territory.


Prof Rabbani’s assassination last month derailed Kabul’s attempts to bring the Taliban into negotiations and immediately provoked Afghan accusations that Pakistan was to blame as it sought to influence any political settlement.

However, on Sunday the Pakistani government denied the allegations as “baseless”.

Hours earlier a statement released by the presidential palace in Kabul said new evidence showed that Rabbani’s murder was plotted in Quetta, a city in southern Pakistan where the Taliban is believed to be headquartered.

Rabbani, chairman of President Hamid Karzai’s High Peace Council, was killed by a bomb hidden in an assassin’s turban at his home in Kabul on September 20. The killer had claimed to be a Taliban peace emissary.

On Sunday, a spokesman for President Karzai said he was reviewing his peace strategy in light of the killing, which had made it increasingly difficult to entertain the idea of meeting Taliban figures.

No substantive peace talks have yet taken place between the Afghan government and the Taliban, leaders of a 10-year insurgency which has led to 140,000 foreign troops being stationed in Afghanistan.

The latest allegations will heap more pressure on Pakistan to distance itself from insurgent groups it once backed against Soviet forces in Afghanistan, and which it still uses to gain influence on its western border.

The past fortnight has seen the US step up demands that Islamabad act against the Haqqani network, an insurgent group with bases in the country’s mountainous, tribal regions.

Pakistan’s government said the Afghan allegations were based on the confession of a suspect who had also spent time in Kabul and Kandahar.

“Those in positions of authority in Kabul should seriously deliberate as to why all those Afghans who are favourably disposed towards peace and towards Pakistan are systematically being removed from the scene and killed,” said a statement.

Filed in: World News

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