Just hours before Afghan President Hamid Karzai was due to meet with President Barack Obama in New York Tuesday, came news that the head of his Afghan Peace Council, former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, had been assassinated in the Afghan capital of Kabul.
"Rabbani has been martyred," Kabul police official Mohammed Zahir told Reuters.
Rabbani was killed by a suicide bomber with explosives in his turban, the AP reported.
An ethnic Tajik who served as president of Afghanistan before the Taliban took power, Rabbani resided in Kabul's green zone. Last year, he was appointed to head a council that sought to reconcile fractious Afghan political parties, including the Taliban.
Rabbani's death "is another blow to the security situation in Kabul, coming just a week after a 20-hour seige in Kabul's heavily diplomatic enclave," the Guardian reported.
"It was Rabbani's task to try to negotiate a political end to the war," the Guardian's report continued, adding: "However, the peace council had made little headway since it was formed a year ago."
Karzai was reported to be returning to Kabul after he received word of the assassination.