Hundreds gather to mourn killing of Afghan peace chief

Hundreds of Afghans have gathered in Kabul to mourn the killing of ex-president and High Peace Council chief Burhanuddin Rabbani.

Kabul was at a standstill as streets were sealed off around Rabbani's home, who was killed by a suicide bomber on Tuesday.

Hundreds of people, including his former colleagues, senior officials and high-profile Afghans arrived to pay their respects at a memorial service at his home on Wednesday, which is World Peace Day, BBC reports.

Rabbani, head of the council that communicated with the Taliban, was killed by a bomb hidden in a turban of an insurgent he was due to hold talks with, Reuters reports.

President Hamid Karzai has cut short his visit to the UN in New York to return to Afghanistan.

Reuters reports:

Rabbani, perhaps the most prominent Afghan to be killed since the fall of the Taliban in 2001, died at his home on Tuesday when an insurgent he was due to hold talks with detonated explosives concealed in a turban.

The killing was a strong statement of Taliban opposition to peace talks and the latest in a string of high-profile assassinations to shake the confidence of ordinary Afghans that security can be maintained as foreign forces withdraw.

Rabbani was Afghanistan's most influential ethnic Tajik and his killing is likely to exacerbate ethnic divides.

World Peace Day activities planned for across the capital, including a concert for women by famous Afghan singer Farhad Darya, were canceled.

He will be buried at a hilltop overlooking Kabul's diplomatic enclave.

"An emergency cabinet meeting today has approved the burial of Professor Rabbani on the Wazir Akbar Khan hilltop," said Waqif Hakimi, a spokesman for Jamiat Islami Afghanistan, Rabbani's political party.