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Bus Crash Kills At Least 23 Pilgrims In Saudi Arabia

(RFE/RL) January 13, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- Reports say at least 23 Muslim pilgrims were killed and over 20 injured in a collision between two buses on January 12 near the border with the United Arab Emirates.

The Saudi Press Agency said the two buses were carrying people from Syria, Egypt, Pakistan, and Kyrgyzstan who were returning from the hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Arkarbek Sadabaev, deputy head for the Board of Religious affairs, told RFE/RL's Kyrgyz Service that 23 Kyrgyz people died in the accident and three more Kyrgyz were injured.

"On January 13, there were supposed to be a flight from Dubai to Osh [in southern Kyrgyzstan] with our pilgrims inside. When they left Medina to Dubai, some 15 kilometers from the border with Saud Arabia and the [United Arab] Emirates, as it was foggy, their bus had a road accident," Sadabaev said.

Kyrgyz President Kurmanbek Bakiev sent his condolences to relatives of the traffic accident victims today.

Some 2.5 million Muslims finished performing the annual hajj pilgrimage earlier this month in Saudi Arabia.

(with material from dpa, Reuters)

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