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Afghan Aviation Minister Assassinated - 2004-03-21

Authorities in western Afghanistan say Civil Aviation Minister Mirwais Sadiq has been assassinated.

Authorities say Mr. Sadiq, who is the son of powerful Herat provincial governor Ismail Khan, was riding in a car in the provincial capital, Herat, when unidentified gunmen opened fire. Reuters news agency says two police officers riding with the minister were also killed.

A spokesman for the governor told Reuters that forces loyal to a senior government commander in the area were responsible for the attack and blamed the assassination on "personal rivalry"

Western news reports say troops loyal to Governor Khan immediately surrounded a government militia barrack in the city of Herat and also laid siege to the commander's home.

In February 2002, Mr. Sadiq's predecessor, Abdul Rahman, was assassinated at Kabul's main airport. Vice president Haji Abdul Qadir was shot dead in his Kabul office five months later.