A top Afghan peace official was killed in a drive-by shooting on Sunday. Arsala Rahmani was a member of the High Peace Council, and was considered one of the countries biggest assets for negotiating peace talks with the Taliban. Rahman served as an official when the Taliban were in power, but has worked with the new government to help broker peace talks between the government and the Taliban. Rahmani lived in a guarded compound in Kabul. He left his house on Sunday to attend the first meeting of the High Council of the Independent Commission for Dispute Resolution and People-to-Government Relations when a car pulled up next to Rahmani's and shot him in the heart.
Rahmani is the second high profile High Peace Coucnil member to be assassinated within the last year. Burhanuddin Rabbani was the head of the High Peace Council when he was killed in his home in September. The BBC is reporting that questions will be raised over why Rahmani wasn't travelling with a body guard on Sunday. A presidential aide also told the BBC that other Taliban officials might be hesitant to engage in peace talks with the government following his death. “His assassination is a big loss, it will affect the peace process because he played an important role in mediating the peace talks and was a trusted person among the Taliban,” Muallawi Shafiullah Nuristani, a fellow member of the High Peace Council, told the New York Times.
The most troubling part of the assassination is that the Taliban are insisting it wasn't them who carried it out. The Times talked to Zabiullah Mujahid, a Taliban spokesman, who said they had been planning to target members of the High Peace Council, but they weren't the ones who killed Rahmani. “It is true that at the beginning of our spring operation we announced that among many other entities and individuals we will target members of the so-called High Peace Council," Mujahid said, "and we are still committed to our campaign against the so-called members of the so-called High Peace Council, but again I insist that the Taliban were not behind today's assassination."