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Asia-pacific

World leaders condemn killing of former president

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2011-09-21

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has joined world leaders in condemning the killing on Tuesday of top Afghan peacebroker and former president Burhanuddin Rabbani. Afghan President Hamid Karzai said the death would not derail the peace process.

AFP - World leaders condemned the assassination Tuesday of Afghan peacebroker and ex-president Burhanuddin Rabbani, saying the Taliban would not prevail despite a series of devastating high-profile attacks.

A suicide bomber posing as an emissary for the insurgents used explosives concealed in a turban to kill Rabbani, head of Afghanistan's High Peace Council that was leading peace efforts with the Taliban, at his home in Kabul.

US President Barack Obama offered condolences for Rabbani's "tragic loss" as he met Afghan President Hamid Karzai in New York, hours after the killing that the American leader described as "a senseless act of violence."

Karzai insisted the peace process would not be derailed by the death, the highest-profile political assassination in Afghanistan since a US-led invasion in 2001 ousted the Taliban from power.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who like Obama was in New York for meetings in the build up to the United Nations General Assembly, condemned Rabbani's killing "in the strongest terms."

"We will support the Afghan government as they pursue the ones responsible for this cowardly attack and bring them to justice. And we will continue to increase pressure on Al-Qaeda and the Taliban," the top US diplomat said.

"We have always known that there are those who will do all they can to undermine the cause of peace and reconciliation," warning, "We will see more violence before this is over," but pledging to stay the course in Afghanistan.

"The Afghan people will not be deterred from pursuing a more peaceful, democratic future for their country and we will continue to stand with them and support their efforts," Clinton added.

A statement from French President Nicolas Sarkozy's office said Rabbani's killing, one week after the Taliban brazenly targeted the US embassy in Kabul and the headquarters of foreign troops, killing at least 14 people during a 19-hour siege, was a "terrorist act of unbearable cowardice."

"The terrorists killed a man of peace, who worked with determination for the reconciliation of Afghans," Sarkozy said, adding that France would "fight the scourge of terrorism relentlessly" in Afghanistan.

British Foreign Minister William Hague said Rabbani, who served as president of Afghanistan from 1992 to 1996, had worked tirelessly for peace and a secure future for the war-wracked country.

"This is an attack by people who only want to spread violence and bloodshed," Hague said on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly.

"We are confident that this will in no way reduce the determination of the government of Afghanistan to continue to work for peace and reconciliation."

British Prime Minister David Cameron, who was due in New York, said in a statement he was "absolutely appalled" by the assassination of Rabbani.

"We met on my last trip to Afghanistan where I was able to hear and see for myself his determination to work for a better Afghanistan. He will be sorely missed but the work of the Peace Council will go on," the British leader added.

While world leaders said Rabbani's death would not derail peace efforts, the US military said the attack signaled that the Taliban was changing tactics by moving off the battlefield to go after high-profile targets elsewhere.

"Strategically, they're significant," said Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, referring to a series of Taliban suicide bombings over the summer that killed, among others, President Karzai's half brother.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, speaking at the same press briefing in Washington, said the assassination tactic was a "concern" and US commanders were working with Afghan forces to try to thwart the Taliban.

"The bottom line still remains that we are moving in the right direction," Panetta added.

Date created : 2011-09-21

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