Negotiations for peace and a cease fire between the Taliban and Afghan government took a major hit when a senior peace negotiator was assassinated.

is an ex-Taliban minister and the leading member of the High Peace Council, which has been trying to reach out to the Taliban to come up with a peace deal to put a halt to the violence. Rahmani was in the middle of talks with Taliban commanders, and his death is a setback for President Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government.

Rahmani’s death marks the second assassination of a High Peace Council member. Last September, Burhannudin Rabbani, the council’s chief of peace, was killed by a suicide bomber posing as a Taliban peace envoy.

According to police chief, Gen Ayub, Rahmani was shot in his car on his return from western Kabul. Police believes that this was a carefully planned attack. A gunman using a silencer fired a single shot that hit Rahmani in the heart, killing him instantly. His driver wasn’t even aware immediately that he had been shot.

Death threats have been made against Rahmani in the past, and it is unclear why he travelled without an armed escort. The Taliban are suspected of orchestrating the attack, though a spokesman for the terror organization denied involvement.

Rahmani was a critical figure in President Karzai’s attempts to persuade Taliban commanders to engage in peace talks. Being a former member of the militant group, Rahmani was able to provide valuable insight into the inner dealings of the Taliban leadership.

Afghan’s peace council has been successful in engaging in talks with Taliban field commanders but has been unable to convince senior members to put a halt to their campaign against the western backed Afghan government. It is unclear at this time what kind of impact Rahmani’s death will have on the peace talks.