KABUL - Gunmen shot dead a top Afghan peace negotiator in the capital Kabul on Sunday, police said, dealing a massive blow to the country's attempts to negotiate a peace deal with Taliban insurgents.
Maulvi Arsala Rahmani was one of the most senior members on Afghanistan's High Peace Council, set up by President Hamid Karzai two years ago to open talks with insurgents.
"He (Rahmani) was stuck in heavy traffic when another car beside him opened fire," said General Mohammad Zahir, head of the investigations unit for Kabul police.
Rahmani, a former Taliban minister, was on his way to a meeting with lawmakers and other officials in a government-run media center in the heavily barricaded diplomatic centre of Kabul.
"His driver did not immediately realise that Rahmani had been killed," police official Zahir told Reuters, adding that no one had been arrested in connection with the shooting.
No group took responsibility for the attack.
Rahmani was essential to the peace process, a BBC News producer in Kabul quoted an Afghan legislator as saying.
"(The) killing of Rahmani is the work of those who are against Peace Process. Rahmani was the backbone of peace process," BBC News Bilal Sarwary producer quoted MP Mirwais Yasini as saying in a tweet.
The head of the peace council and former Afghan president, Burhanuddin Rabbani, was assassinated by a suicide bomber last year.
In separate news, U.K. officials announced that two British servicemen were shot by members of the Afghan police force
Two British servicemen shot dead on Saturday in southern Afghanistan by members of the Afghan national police force, the Ministry of Defence has said.
The Ministry of Defence said the two had been providing security near a base in the Lashkar Gah in Helmand province.
Reuters and msnbc.com staff contributed to this report.
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