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    13 Afghan pilgrims die during hajj

    KABUL (PAN): Thirteen Afghan hajj pilgrims have died and a dozen others wounded during the pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia, an official of the Hajj and Islamic Affairs Ministry said on Wednesday.

    The deaths and injuries were a result of illness and traffic accidents, deputy hajj and Islamic affairs minister, Dr. Daiul Haq Abid, told a press conference in Kabul.

    The deceased are Syed Mohammad s/o Rahmatullah (Kunduz province), Bibi Hawa d/o Jawan Mard (Baghlan province), Mohammad Nadir s/o Amir Khan (Maidan Wardak), Najeebullah s/o Rahmatullah (Nuristan), Khair Mohammad s/o Mohammad Qurban (Ghazni), Abdul Majeed s/o Abdul Rauf (Balkh), Mohammad Naeem s/o Mohammad Amin (Kabul), Mohammad Shah s/o Amir Shah (Paktika), Abdul Razaq s/o Abdullah (Kandahar), Hisamuddin s/o Bahauddin (Nangarhar), Bibi Hawa d/o Syed Mohammad (Farah), Abdul Rahim s/o Khair Mohammad (Kandahar) and Sultan Mohammad, a resident of Nuristan province.

    Abid did not disclose the names of those injured, but said they are in stable condition.

    Last year, 29 Afghans pilgrims had died and nine others wounded for the same reasons.

    Abid also said the first flight taking Afghan pilgrims home would take off from Saudi Arabia on Friday. He said the process of airlifting back Afghan pilgrims home would take 25 days or a month to complete.

    More than 30,000 Afghans had gone to Saudi Arabia for this year’s hajj pilgrimage rituals.

    Abid said that 11 Afghans had been arrested on the charge of thievery in Saudi Arabia and their fate would be decided by the government of that country.

    Last year, 45 Afghans were arrested on similar charges and they are still languishing in Saudi Arabia jails, he said.

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