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Tuesday, 4 April, 2000, 15:28 GMT 16:28 UK
Afghan governor shot dead

The shooting took place in a densely populated Peshawar district
A prominent political figure from northern Afghanistan, Arif Khan, has been shot dead in the Pakistani city of Peshawar.

Police said Arif Khan, the governor of Afghanistan's Kunduz province, was killed along with one of his bodyguards by an unidentified gunman near the family home in the city on Tuesday morning.

Mr Khan's body has since been transported back to Afghanistan. His family has described his death as a political murder.

The BBC's Rahimullah Yusufzai in Peshawar says Mr Khan's family had taken refuge in Pakistan, following the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.

Lone gunman

Police were told that a bearded gunman in his mid-30s fired at Arif Khan's vehicle with a Kalashnikov rifle.

Many rival Afghan factions are based in Peshawar. We suspect that any one of them could be involved in the killing

Police spokesman Tariq Khan
"An armed man opened fire on his vehicle killing the governor and a Taleban commander, Sharahin Khan, on the spot," French news agency, AFP, quoted an unnamed police official as saying.

The gunman is said to have fled the scene, which took place in a residential area populated by Afghan refugees.

"Police have launched an investigation and efforts are underway to arrest the killer," he said.

Powerful figure

Arif Khan had been the governor of Kunduz for the past several years.

Before the Taleban uprising, he was a supporter of the former Afghan president, Burhanuddin Rabbani.

But he defected to the Taleban three years ago, to enable the Islamic militia to take control of Kunduz province, of which he was made governor.

A one-time supporter of former president Rabbani
Police said the identity of his lone assassin was not known, but said the attack was linked with the ongoing rivalry between the ruling Taleban authorities and opposition groups in Afghanistan.

"Many rival Afghan factions are based in Peshawar. We suspect that any one of them could be involved in the killing," said Tariq Khan, a police spokesman.

Mr Khan's family blamed the deposed Rabbani government and its military commander, Ahmad Shah Masood, for the murder.

A Pakistani government official, requesting anonymity, told the BBC the cancellation of weapons permits for senior Afghan officials had made them vulnerable to attack.

The permits were withdrawn after last October's military coup in Pakistan.

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See also:

24 Nov 99 | South Asia
Afghan opposition commander killed
28 Mar 00 | South Asia
Explosion rocks Pakistan border
19 Oct 99 | South Asia
Taleban admit losing ground in North
02 Apr 00 | South Asia
Afghan opposition leader speaks out
12 Nov 99 | South Asia
Bomb attack on Taleban official
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