Photo by BAY ISMOYO/AFP/GettyImages
Maulvi Arsala Rahmani, a former Taliban leader who became one of the most senior members of Afghanistan’s High Peace Council, was shot and killed Sunday in Kabul. Coming less than nine months after the head of the council was killed in a suicide attack, the assassination is yet another setback to Western-backed efforts to sit down with insurgents, reports the Los Angeles Times.
No one has claimed responsibility for Rahmani’s assassination that took place in one of the safest areas of the Afghan capital. The Taliban issued an uncharacteristically quick denial, insisting it was not responsible for the killing. “Others are involved in this,” the Taliban spokesman said, reports Reuters. Yet the insurgents had said earlier this month they would target members of the peace council during their spring offensive, points out the Washington Post.
Rahmani was a particularly significant figure because he understood the inside workings of the Taliban and was respected both by Afghan officials and insurgents. “Observers say he will be extremely difficult to replace as there is nobody of his calibre and experience willing or able to get involved,” writes the BBC’s Bilal Sarwary.
Rahmani was shot mere hours after Karzai announced the launch of the third stage in a five-step transition process. Within six months, Afghan National Security forces should be in charge of protecting areas that hold 75 percent of the country’s population, reports the Associated Press. Meanwhile, two British troops were killed Sunday by members of the Afghan police force, once again raising fears about the presence of insurgents in security forces, reports the Guardian. A total of eight NATO troops have been killed over the past three days, notes CNN.