UPDATE: More information has trickled in about how the attack went down.
The New York Times reports that witnesses say that the suicide bomber had explosives tucked in his turban and was brought into Rabbani's home by a trusted emissary. The bomber had been vetted as a messenger who was said to have information for Rabbani, but he was not searched as a sign of trust.
“A group of people were brought to his room, saying they wanted to discuss the peace process,” Gen. Abdul Zahir, director of investigations for the Kabul police, told the Washington Post. “The man hugged Rabbani and blew himself up.”
The New Yorker's Dexter Filkins, meanwhile, is calling the attacker "a Taliban assassin" and is wondering aloud whether the attack "may turn out to be an opening shot in the civil war that more and more Afghans believe could follow on the heels of an American and NATO withdrawal."
POST at 12:05 p.m.: Burhanuddin Rabbani, the former president of Afghanistan who was working to end the ongoing conflict between the government and Taliban insurgents, was killed on Tuesday by an unidentified attacker.
His death at his home in Kabul was likely the result of a suicide bombing attack, according to the city's police. It was not immediately clear who was behind the assassination, but the death of Rabbani, who was serving as the leader of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, “was a serious blow to any notion of reconciliation with the Taliban,” the New York Times reports.
Rabbani lived in a heavily fortified Kabul district sometimes known as the "green zone," which houses many diplomats and government officials. The attack that killed Rabbani comes one week after insurgents waged a 20-hour siege on the district and other parts of the city, resulting in the deaths of five policemen and 11 civilians. That attack—as well as two others on the city in recent months—was thought to be the work of the Taliban-allied Haqqani network.
"Rabbani has been martyred," Mohammed Zahir, head of the Criminal Investigation Department of the Kabul Police, told Reuters in the wake of the attack. He provided no further details.
From 1992 to 1996, Rabbani served as president of Afghanistan, until the Taliban takeover of Kabul forced him out of his post. During the Soviet occupation of the country in the 1980s, Rabbani was the leader of a powerful mujahideen party.