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U.S. envoy: Saudis agree to return assassination suspects


The leader of Afghanistan's interim government, Hamid Karzai, said Friday that 20 suspects have been linked to the assassination of the Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism Abdul Rahman.

Rahman was stabbed to death Thursday. Officials originally had said he was beaten to death by Hajj pilgrims frustrated at having to wait up to two days to get a plane to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Among the suspects are five senior military and defense officials in Karzai's government, including the head of the intelligence ministry, Gen. Abdullah Tawhedi; the technical deputy of the Ministry of Defense, Gen. Qalander Big; and a Supreme Court justice, Haji Halim.

Zalmay Khalilzad, President Bush's special envoy to Afghanistan, who spoke with Karzai on Friday, said the suspects have long had a vendetta against Rahman, who had broken away from the Northern Alliance.

Three suspects, all members of the Northern Alliance, fled to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Khalilzad told PBS's "The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer."

Karzai asked the Saudis for the immediate return of the three suspects who fled to Saudi Arabia, and the Saudis agreed to hand them over, Khalilzad added.

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Abdul Rahman: Afghanistan's Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism who was killed Thursday. Hamid Karzai, the leader of Afghanistan's interim government, called the killing an "assassination" and said that five senior government officials were involved.

Daniel Pearl: A 38-year-old reporter for The Wall Street Journal who was abducted January 23 in Karachi, Pakistan. A group calling itself the National Movement for the Restoration of Pakistani Sovereignty claims it is holding him and is threatening to kill him unless the United States meets its demands to release Pakistanis captured in the U.S. war on terror.




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