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Murder of peace envoy a major blow to hopes of Afghan talks

By Kim Sengupta in Kabul

The death of Arsala Rahmani is being viewed as a severe blow to efforts to bring the insurgency leaders in Afghanistan to the negotiating table.

The former Taliban education minister was ambushed as he was being driven to work yesterday morning.

Gunmen in a car fired a single bullet to the heart. General Ayub Salangi, the head of the Kabul police force, said: "He died instantly."

Mr Rahmani was one of several former members of the Taliban hierarchy who was removed from a UN blacklist in July 2011 to allow them to engage in the peace process.

His background of serving in Mullah Omar's government gave him a degree of credibility with the militants who the Afghan government-organised High Peace Council were striving to convince to renounce violence.

Last year, the head of the council, Burhannudin Rabbani, was killed by a suicide bomber with explosives in his turban. Yesterday, the Taliban denied involvement.

(© Independent News Service)

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