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Tajik Villagers Begin Journey To Hajj By Foot

Muslim pilgrims circle the Kaaba at the Al-Masjid Al-Haram, known as the Grand Mosque, in Mecca during the 2011 hajj.
KULOB, Tajikistan -- Seven Tajik men have crossed into Afghanistan on the first stage of a planned journey by foot to Mecca in Saudi Arabia to perform the key Muslim obligation of the hajj.

The men have pledged to walk all 4,600 kilometers, crossing at least four countries, including Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The men, most of whom are in their 60s, say they have little money and no travel insurance, and hope to spend nights in mosques.

If all goes well, they plan to arrive in Mecca just in time for the hajj in late October.

The group is led by former athlete Abdulaziz Rajabov, who has already once traveled to Mecca by foot.

Tajik authorities helped the men to get foreign visas for the journey.