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Afghan Leader: Killing a Conspiracy

February 15, 2002

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) _ Interim leader Hamid Karzai said Friday night that the killing of the country’s aviation and tourism minister had been a conspiracy and that several high government officials visiting Saudi Arabia would be arrested.

``He was killed by people who planned it,″ Karzai told reporters at a hastily called news conference. ``We are asking the Saudis to arrest them and bring them back. ... We will try them. We will put them behind bars.″

The minister, Abdul Rahman, was killed Thursday in what appeared to be a mob attack at Kabul’s airport by pilgrims angry that they had been unable to travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Before Karzai spoke, his information minister, Abdul Rahim Makhdoom, gave journalists five names of men he said were wanted in connection with the attack on aviation minister Abdul Rahman. Two were generals, and others were members of the intelligence service and the justice ministry.

Three of the five were believed to have left on flights for Saudi Arabia along with pilgrims traveling there, the information minister said.

Update hourly