Afghan Peace Negotiator Arsala Rahmani Shot Dead

Arsala Rahmani was a former Taliban minister and a key member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, which leads efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban.

Former Taliban minister Maulvi Arsala Rahmani, a member of the High Peace Council set up by President Hamid Karzai to liaise with insurgents, was shot and killed Sunday, according to authorities in Kabul.

A senior Afghan peace negotiator has been shot dead in Kabul, officials say.

Arsala Rahmani was a former Taliban minister and a key member of Afghanistan's High Peace Council, which leads efforts to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban.

He was reportedly close to President Hamid Karzai and a key figure in the reconciliation of Taliban commanders.

Last year the peace process was dealt a major blow when the peace council's chief was killed in a suicide attack.

Burhannudin Rabbani was killed by a bomb hidden in the turban of a suicide attacker posing as a Taliban peace envoy last September.

His US-educated son, Salahuddin Rabbani, was appointed to replace him last month.

Police say that Mr Rahmani was shot dead by an unidentified gunman in a vehicle, while he was on his way to work in the west of Kabul.

Attackers driving a white Toyota Corolla fired a single bullet using a silencer, the BBC's Bilal Sarwary in Kabul has been told by witnesses to the attack. Mr Rahmani reportedly did not have a bodyguard.

Afghanistan's peace council was set up two years ago by President Karzai to open negotiations with insurgents.

The council was credited with reconciling hundreds of Taliban field commanders, but had failed to woo any senior figures away from the insurgency.

Correspondents say that Mr Rahmani was responsible for the committee that looked at freeing Taliban prisoners from Bagram and other Afghan prisons.

But how much the peace council achieved in the two years since it was set up remains unclear.

Although the Taliban denied sanctioning last year's killing of Mr Rabbani, they view the Western-backed Karzai government as illegitimate.

In March the militants suspended parallel preliminary peace negotiations with the United States, saying US efforts to involve the Afghan authorities were a key stumbling block.