Afghan peace envoy assassinated

Mowlawi Mohammad Hashem Munib`s killing comes as a latest blow to Afghanistan`s reconciliation efforts with the militants.

Kabul: An Afghan peace envoy was killed along with his son when a suicide bomber targeted him on his way back from Friday prayers along with his son, dealing another blow to Afghanistan`s reconciliation process that is turning out to be a tough road.

Mowlawi Mohammad Hashem Munib, a former commander of a major Afghan mujahideen group Hezb-i-Islami, was the head of the provincial peace council in eastern Kunar province.

Both he and his son were killed when the suicide bomber blew himself up near his vehicle at 1.00 pm local time. His bodyguard was also killed in the attack.

"I confirm that Mowlawi Mohammad Hashem Munib, the head of provincial council in Kunar was martyred with his son together when a suicide bomber blew up his explosive materials near his car while he was on his way to home from Friday praying," Sayed Fazlullah Wahidy, the provincial governor for Kunar province, said over phone.

He said Munib was an important Hizb-i-Islami commander at the time of `jihad` against the Soviet troops in Afghanistan. President Hamid Karzai condemned the attack as a "heinous act" of killing a messenger of peace. He said the terrorists were "trying to undermine the role of elders who are working for the good of Afghanistan" through such acts.

Munib`s killing comes as a latest blow to Afghanistan`s reconciliation efforts with the militants, considered crucial for the country`s future as foreign troops prepare to leave.

Last year, in a major blow, former Afghan president Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was leading the High Peace Council, was assassinated by a suicide bomber.

The peace process has struggled ever since, piling up the problems on a weak Afghan government that is struggling to deal with the Taliban insurgency.

Kunar that borders Pakistan is considered a stronghold of the Taliban insurgents.