Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- Two service members with NATO's International SecurityAssistance Force in Afghanistan were killed Sunday, bringing thedeath toll among NATO troops to eight in three days. The two died following an improvised explosive device attack ineastern Afghanistan, ISAF said. Three others killed in the past few days are believed to be victimsof so-called "green on blue" attacks, in which Afghan securityforces turned their weapons on ISAF personnel. Another was killed in an insurgent attack, and one was killed in aroadside bomb. |
One ISAF service member died of non-combat relatedinjuries, officials said. Meanwhile, a key figure in the country's efforts to bring theTaliban to peace negotiations was assassinated Sunday in Kabul. Gunmen killed Moulavi Arsala Rahmani while he was on his way towork Sunday morning, the Afghan interior ministry said. Rahmani was a senator and Cabinet minister in the former Talibangovernment. In recent years, he was a senior member of the HighPeace Council, established by President Hamid Karzai to ignitepeace talks with the Taliban.
Authorities are searching for the attackers. The Taliban said itwas not responsible for the killing. The latest violence came as Afghanistan released a new list ofareas in the country that will be handed over to Afghan authority. The transition will take place gradually in the coming months,officials said.
The Afghan government "will now be responsible for the security ofmore than 75% of the Afghan population," ISAF commander Gen. JohnR. Allen said in a statement. NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said once the move isimplemented, "transition will have begun in every one of the 34provinces of Afghanistan, including every provincial capital, andwill cover almost two-thirds of the country's districts." "This is thanks to the courage and determination of the Afghanpeople, the Afghan security forces and ISAF, and it is a result ofthe progress we have already made.
Together, we are moving steadilycloser to our shared goal: to see the Afghan forces fully in chargeof their country's security by the end of 2014," Rasmussen said ina statement. Gavin Sundwall, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy, said theannouncement marks a "positive step forward in the evolution ofAfghan leadership and our enduring partnership." Kandahar city, until recently a Taliban stronghold, is among theareas being handed over to Afghan authority. The list announcedSunday is the third set of areas making the transition. General Mohamed Zahir Azimi, spokesman for the defense ministry,said that at an upcoming NATO summit in Chicago, Afghan officialshope to get commitments from the international community forsupport after 2014.
The country already has internationalcommitments for $4.1 billion a year to fund the Afghan securityforces until 2014, he said. Despite the high praise for Sunday's announcements, the killingswere a stark reminder that violence continues to rage. In a recent e-mail announcing their spring offensive, calledAl-Farooq, the Taliban mentioned that members of High Peace Councilwere among the people it would target this spring and summer. However, Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid said in a text messageSunday that the group did not kill Rahmani. An Afghan foreign ministry spokesman condemned "this cowardlyassassination in the strongest possible terms." "No one but the sworn enemies of peace in Afghanistan and theregion would commit such a heinous act," Janan Mosazai said.
"Mr.Rahmani gave his life to a cause that's the just aspiration of theAfghan people. His work will continue." ISAF issued a statement expressing condolences to Rahmani's family. "Rahmani, a former Taliban member, chose to make a positivecontribution to his nation by turning his back on an insurgentmovement that continues to be wholly detrimental to the future ofAfghanistan," ISAF said. "His decision to help make the futurebrighter for Afghans serves as an inspiration to us all, and hiscontributions will be missed." The U.S.
Embassy said Rahmani was killed "by the enemies ofstability and security. The High Peace Council has been working fora durable, long-term peace in Afghanistan. The United States ofAmerica will continue to stand alongside the Afghan Government andpeople against terrorism and to work with them on behalf of asecure and prosperous Afghanistan." CNN's Masoud Popalzai, Nick Paton Walsh, and Josh Levs contributedto this report.
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