Bomber kills provincial peace council head in Afghan east

KABUL Fri Apr 6, 2012 8:56am EDT

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KABUL (Reuters) - A suicide bomber killed the head of a regional peace council on Friday in Afghanistan's east, police said, dealing a fresh blow to the country's attempts to negotiate a peace deal with Taliban insurgents.

Hashim Monib and his son were killed as they left their mosque in Asadabad, the capital of the Kunar province, provincial police chief Ewaz Mohd told Reuters.

"They were on their way home after prayers when the bomber attacked them," he said.

Provincial peace councils, along with the separate 70-member High Peace Council which President Hamid Karzai established two years ago, appear to have made little progress in negotiating with the Taliban to end the war now in its eleventh year.

The council came under attack last year when its chief Burhanuddin Rabbani was assassinated by a suicide bomber.

U.S. diplomats have separately engaged the Taliban in secret discussions abroad leading to an agreement on the establishment of a Taliban office in the Gulf state of Qatar, though the Taliban later suspended the talks, blaming Washington for ignoring its demands.

Fear is mounting amongst Afghans and foreign governments alike that the planned pullout of NATO combat troops by the end of 2014 and Afghan national elections in the same year could see the country engulfed in more conflict and bloodshed.

(Reporting by Hamid Shalizi, writing by Amie Ferris-Rotman; Editing by Ed Lane)

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