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Afghanistan: Government Arrests, Seeks Suspects In Minister's Murder

Kabul, 16 February 2002 (RFE/RL) -- The interim government in Kabul has sacked and detained four officials from the Interior Ministry in connection with the killing on 14 February of Civil Aviation Minister Dr. Abdul Rahman. Three senior officials from the intelligence service, the Defense Ministry, and the Justice Ministry also have been sacked and are listed as "wanted" after they fled to Saudi Arabia after the killing.

All of the suspects are members of Shura-i-Nazar, the Northern Alliance faction that had been led by the late Ahmad Shah Massoud.

Our correspondent in Kabul has confirmed that the three senior officials who fled are Deputy Intelligence Minister Abdullah Jan Tawhidi, Defense Ministry General Kalaner Baeg, and Sarangwal Haleem of the Justice Ministry. The Saudi government has promised to have them arrested and extradited.

Those sacked and detained in Kabul include General Din Mohamad Gurat -- the third-ranking official in the Interior Ministry who was in charge of airport security when Rahman was killed. Three other suspects detained in Kabul are lower-ranking Interior Ministry officials in charge of airport security.

The Interior Ministry initially blamed the killing on an angry crowd of Haj pilgrims who were waiting for flights to Mecca. But interim leader Hamid Karzai said last night that the killing was an assassination plot.