Afghan minister killed by pilgrims at airport

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The Independent Online

The Minister of Civil Aviation in the Afghan interim government was attacked and killed at Kabul airport yesterday by angry Muslim pilgrims, the Arabic television network al-Jazeera reported.

The Qatar-based satellite channel said the pilgrims attacked Abdul Rahman because they had been unable to board flights for the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. Troops were sent to the airport, flights cancelled and a curfew imposed on the Afghan capital.

Afghan government sources said Mr Rahman was at the airport for a trip to Delhi. The crowd swarmed around his plane after rumours that their trips to Mecca would be further delayed because the minister had taken their plane.

The sources, in Jalalabad, said on condition of anonymity that when Mr Rahman tried to calm the crowd, he was attacked and fatally injured. Several pilgrims were injured during the clash with the minister's bodyguards.

Muslims who are able-bodied and can afford the trip to Mecca – home of Islam's holiest shrine – are obliged to at least once in their life. Saudi authorities are expecting up to 2.5 million people to undertake the pilgrimage this year.