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    Karzai off to Makkah for Nayef’s funeral

    KABUL (PAN): President Hamid Karzai on Sunday left for Saudi Arabia to attend funeral rites for Crown Prince Nayef bin Abdul Aziz in the holy city of Makkah, his office said.

    Nayef, a half-brother of King Abdullah and the kingdom’s long-serving interior minister, died in Geneva on Saturday, the state television announced.

    The 79-year-old, who recently left Saudi Arabia for medical treatment, “died outside the kingdom,” said the Al-Ekhbariyah Television, quoting a statement from the royal court.

    A statement from the Presidential Palace in Kabul said that Karzai, along with a galaxy of Muslim leaders, would attend Nayef’s funeral prayers after Maghreb (sunset) prayers.

    Nayef, who led an iron-fisted crackdown on Al Qaeda following a wave of attacks in Saudi Arabia between 2003 and 2006, became heir to the throne in October last year after the death of crown prince Sultan, his full brother.

    In his message, Karzai extended deep condolences to the Saudi people, government and the royal family over Nayef’s death. He said Afghans shared the grief of their Saudi brethren.

    pr/mud