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I found this SO disturbing

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Muslim Pilgrims Kill Afghan Minister
The Associated Press
Feb 15 2002 9:58AM

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A mob of Muslim pilgrims enraged over flight delays for the pilgrimage to the Islamic holy city of Mecca stormed a plane at Kabul airport and beat Afghanistan's aviation minister to death, tossing his body to the tarmac, officials and eyewitnesses said.
The violent outbreak Thursday underscored fears about the interim government's ability to establish security in chaotic post-Taliban Afghanistan - and raised questions about the role of international peacekeepers, who were present on the airport grounds at the time of the mob attack.

Concerns over disorder were further highlighted when a melee broke out at Kabul's main soccer stadium on Friday, marring what had been billed as a goodwill game between peacekeepers and an Afghan team. An overflow crowd began fighting their way through the gates. Afghan police beat back the crowd with clubs and rifle butts and fired smoke bombs. Fifty Afghans and five peacekeepers were injured, none seriously.

Play began despite the clash, and the peacekeepers team won 3-1.

Afghanistan's Cabinet met in emergency session for several hours late Thursday following the killing of the aviation and tourism minister, Abdul Rahman. The Kabul airport was sealed off Friday morning and white-helmeted Interior Ministry police were stationed every few yards on the roads leading to the main entrance.

``We lost a good man, an educated man,'' said a top aide to Rahman, Mohammed Yakoub Nuristani. ``He wanted to help rebuild Afghanistan.''

``The interim administration is shocked, obviously, and very saddened by this incident,'' said Foreign Ministry spokesman Omar Samad. ``We're looking into the criminal actions that have taken place here.''

British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, who arrived Friday for talks with the interim government, immediately conveyed his condolences to Foreign Minister Abdullah.

The fatal confrontation was sparked after Rahman went to the Kabul airport Thursday afternoon for a flight to New Delhi, according to accounts from government and Afghan airline officials. Hundreds of pilgrims, who'd been stranded at the airport since early morning awaiting Saudi visas and transport to Saudi Arabia, blocked Rahman's plane, airline and government officials said.

The mob stormed the plane when Rahman emerged to try to talk to the crowd, said Abdul Wahab Nuristani, the deputy chief of a military division in eastern Afghanistan. Rahman was seized, beaten and his body tossed to the tarmac below, he said, citing witness accounts.

``This is so terrible, so illegal,'' Nuristani said.

Dozens of friends, family and government officials gathered at Rahman's Kabul home as word spread of his death. The mourners listened quietly as a mullah read verses from the Quran.

Rahman, 49, was trained as a medical doctor. He fled Afghanistan when the Taliban took over and had been living in exile in New Delhi. In interviews since taking over as aviation and tourism minister in the interim government, he had spoken enthusiastically of his wish to make Afghanistan a tourist destination.

Two men were detained for questioning in the minister's death, said Faraidoon, an Interior Ministry spokesman who uses only one name.

Despite the killing, two pilgrimage flights left the airport at 2 a.m. and another was to depart later Friday, airport officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Several pilgrims were also hurt during a clash with Rahman's bodyguards at the airport Thursday. Also beaten in the fray were about 10 members of the staff of Afghanistan's Ariana Airlines, including its president, said an Ariana employee who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The employee, who was in the airport as tensions built throughout the day, said would-be pilgrims grew angrier and angrier as delays dragged on while they waited in the freezing terminal.

One other man aboard the plane, a member of the security detail for the officials on board, was injured when he was thrown from the plane, Faraidoon said.

A contingent of British and French peacekeepers, stationed less than a quarter-mile away in the military part of the airport, were apparently unaware that the situation had flared out of control. Earlier, they had sent food and blankets for the growing crowd.

The security force ``knew there was an ongoing incident, but it happened very quickly,'' said British Capt. Graham Dunlop, a spokesman for the peacekeepers. He said the civilian area of the airport was under the control of Afghan authorities.

``We were not involved,'' he said. ``It's not our jurisdiction.''

Dunlop said he did not know how many peacekeepers were on the airport grounds at the time of the mob attack.

Mohammed Anif, a Kabul man who was waiting to see off his father on the pilgrimage, saw the mob rush the plane after a rumor ran through the crowd that it was about to take off.

``They went running up the steps and inside the plane, and we saw struggles and a body thrown out of the plane,'' he said. He said he could not tell from a distance if it was Rahman's.

Some accounts, though, said that Rahman left the plane of his own accord to try to talk to the crowd.

Before the plane was stormed, Anif said he heard people in the crowd talking angrily about the minister using the plane for an official trip while they waited for their own plane for the pilgrimage, or hajj.

``They were saying that the hajj was the most important thing, and how could he do this,'' Anif said. ``Some were saying they wanted to lie down in front of the plane to keep it from taking off, and others said, 'No, let's stop it another way.'''

The numbers of Afghan pilgrims wanting to embark on the pilgrimage had been building up for the past several days, with backlog running into the thousands by Thursday.

Some would-be travelers had trouble obtaining the necessary Saudi visas, but the main bottleneck appeared to be lack of flights and delays in issuing tickets and other paperwork. Many pilgrims were illiterate and needed help getting their documents in order.

The hajj to Mecca - home of Islam's holiest shrine - is one of the pillars of Islam. Muslims who are able-bodied and can afford the journey are obliged to do it at least once in their lifetime.

Since the fall of the Taliban, factional fighting has persisted in pockets of Afghanistan's countryside, but this is the most serious violence yet in the capital since the interim government of Hamid Karzai took over Dec. 22.

Kabul is patrolled by an international peacekeeping force that numbers about 3,200 troops thus far. Karzai has repeatedly appealed for an enlarging of the force and an expansion of its deployment outside of Kabul.

Also Friday, a Pakistani official said the former Taliban governor of the western Afghan province of Herat, Khairullah Khrerkhawa, was arrested in a Pakistani village along the Afghan border.
post #2 of 5
I saw this on the news this morning. It is very upsetting. Makes you wonder what's going to happen next and if there can ever be peace.
post #3 of 5
Yeah, saw it...it rots.:disturbed
post #4 of 5
OMG - and .......they are going on a HOLY pilgrimage ........
post #5 of 5
That IS very disturbing...what is the matter with these people?
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