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Eight Arrested After Rock-Throwing Crowd Forces Plane To Go Back For Afghan Lawmakers

Ghulam Hussain Naseri was one of two Afghan members of parliament who missed the original flight. (file photo)
Ghulam Hussain Naseri was one of two Afghan members of parliament who missed the original flight. (file photo)

Afghan authorities have arrested eight people, including the son of a lawmaker, after a rock-throwing crowd forced a plane to return abruptly to Kabul to pick up two lawmakers who had missed their flight.

The May 23 incident has caused uproar among many Afghans, including politicians and people in the domestic aviation industry, who have accused the lawmakers of abusing their power.

Authorities said the Kam Air passenger plane carrying 30 passengers was landing in Bamiyan after the hour-long flight from Kabul when a group gathered on the runway and hurled rocks at the plane.

The pilots took off without letting the passengers disembark and returned to Kabul.

After refueling, the pilots then flew back to Bamiyan along with Abdul Rahman Shahidani and another lawmaker, Ghulam Hussain Naseri, who had missed the flight earlier.

Najib Danish, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, told RFE/RL on May 24 that two security officials, including Shahidani's son and the airport security chief, were arrested. Danish said six others, mostly police officers, were also arrested and were being questioned by authorities

Osman Samadi, the CEO of Kam Air, said the incident was dangerous and risked the lives of the passengers and airport personnel. He said the Shahidani and Naseri have been banned from flying again with the private airline.

"The people working on the runway could have died," Samadi said. "The passengers onboard the plane could have been hurt. The rocks that were thrown could also have damaged the plane."

Abdul Rauf Ibrahimi, the speaker of the lower house of parliament, said those arrested had acted illegally.

"The members of parliament shouldn't abuse the authority and privileges that they have," he said.

Shahidani and Naseri, both lawmakers from Bamiyan Province, have denied the allegations.

Afghan lawmakers are routinely accused of abusing positions of power to enrich themselves or relatives.

Transparency International has ranked the country near the bottom of its annual corruption index.

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