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    First Hajj flight today

     KABUL (PAN): The first batch of Afghan pilgrims is set to set to leave for Saudi Arabia later on Monday, the Ministry of Haji said.

    Carrying 218 pilgrims, the first flight would take off from Kabul International Airport at 3:00pm, Daee Alhaq Abid, the deputy hajj minister, told Pajhwok Afghan News.

    According to the deputy minister, 70 of the travellers are pilgrims and the others are hajj and public health ministries' employees.

    Around 1,500 pilgrims received visas from the Saudi embassy that reopened on Saturday after 18 days of closure in the wake of a recent attack on the US embassy in Kabul. Abid said 2,500 Afghans would be issued visas every day.

    Khan Wardak, the Ariana Airlines director, said they would operate four to five flights from Kabul and other provinces to Saudi Arabia to transfer the pilgrims. Around 30,000 Afghans are due to perform Hajj this year.

    mrh/mud