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    Ex-president Rabbani assassinated

    KABUL (PAN) High Peace Council Chairman Prof. Burhanuddin Rabbani was assassinated along with three members of his panel in a suicide attack on his residence in Kabul on Tuesday evening, an official said.

    The 101st Asmayee Zone Crime Investigation Unit's chief, Brig. Gen. Abdul Zahir, confirmed to Pajhwok Afghan News only the former president's assassination. However, he provided no further details.

    A security official, who did not want to be named, said the Council Secretariat chief, Masoom Stanikzai, was wounded in the suicide blast in the high-security Wazir Akbar Khan neighbourhood.

    Another source disclosed that Rabbani, the Jamiat-i-Islami leader, and several members of the council were in a meeting with two key Taliban leaders at the time of the attack on his house.

    One of the rebels, who met the council officials, had reportedly placed explosives in his turban. Set up last year, the council is trying to woo Afghan militants back into the national mainstream. However, rights groups and some political circles have raised questions about its performance.

    As security forces cordoned off the area at 7.15, three ambulances were seen leaving the ex-president's home. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the assault in the posh locality, where several foreign embassies and government departments are located.

    Rabbani, who headed the Mujahideen government, was ousted from power in 1996 when the Taliban seized power. Later, he was chosen as Northern Alliance chief.

    His assassination comes a week after a 20-hour battle near the diplomatic district in Kabul. Twenty-seven people -- 11 civilians, five police officers and 11 insurgents -- died in the fierce clash.

    The battle was touched off by rocket attacks on the National Directorate of Security (NDS) office, the US embassy, NATO headquarters and some government compounds.