Taliban says won Rabbani trust in order to kill him

KABUL Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:28am IST

Former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kabul December 11, 2004. Photo taken December 11. REUTERS/Omar Sobhani/Files

Former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani speaks during an interview with Reuters in Kabul December 11, 2004. Photo taken December 11.

Credit: Reuters/Omar Sobhani/Files

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KABUL (Reuters) - The Taliban said on Tuesday it had won assassinated former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani's trust by using a high-level team that feigned interest in talks but instead was intent on killing him.

A Taliban suicide bomber on Tuesday killed Rabbani, head of a council that was trying to negotiate a political end to the war, in what analysts called a blow to peace efforts.

Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid claimed responsibility, saying the killer had gone to Rabbani's home for talks.

"As soon as Rabbani came three steps forward to hug Mohammad Masoom, he triggered his explosive-filled jacket killing Rabbani, (another) Taliban militant Wahid Yar and four security guards present at the house," he told Reuters.

The Kabul police chief's office, in a statement, said the explosives had been hidden in the suicide bomber's turban.

Mujahid said the Taliban's central leadership had appointed two "articulate and well-trained" fighters -- Masoom and Yar -- to build contacts with Rabbani.

He also told Reuters that Yar, a former minister when the Taliban were in power in Kabul, had visited Rabbani's home many times.

"Both of them were frequently meeting him at his Kabul home and secured trust of Rabbani and his guards. They were telling Rabbani that they would soon bring senior Taliban leadership to the negotiating table with him," Mujahid said by phone from an undisclosed location.

The Taliban frequently exaggerates battlefield exploits, but Mujahid's statements seemed to broadly match other accounts of the assassination.

Mujahid said the group had made similar plans for assassinating "more such people" in the near future.

Rabbani's assassination comes after a string of high profile killings, including President Hamid Karzai's brother and top northern police commander General Dawood Dawood.

(Writing by Emma Graham-Harrison; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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