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Baby boy and three relatives killed in Saudi Arabia minibus crash

Four members of the same family including a two-month-old baby boy have been killed in a minibus crash in Saudi Arabia as they returned from a pilgrimage to Mecca.

The family believed to be from Manchester died in the incident near Medina on Wednesday along with another couple from Glasgow.

They have been named locally as Mohammed Khursheed and his wife, Noshina Ahmed, their two-month-old grandson Adam Anis and Mrs Ahmed's sister Rabia.

Glasgow Central Mosque have named the Scottish victims as Mohammad and Talat Aslam, parents of five, from the Newlands area of the city.

The Foreign Office said it was supporting the families of the six victims and helping others who were injured in the crash.

The group had just completed Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca, according to Glasgow Central Mosque.

A statement from the Scottish mosque said: "Mr Mohammad Aslam and Mrs Talat Aslam of Glasgow, the parents of Shehla, Saba, Omar, Osman and Haroon, have returned to the mercy of Allah.

"On Wednesday January 18 they had just completed Umrah and were travelling in a minibus to visit our beloved Prophet's Masjid in Madina. Tragically they were involved in a fatal accident.

"Four members of another family from Manchester were also killed in this tragedy."

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We are supporting the families of six British people who have sadly died following a road accident in Saudi Arabia.

"We are also helping several more British nationals who were injured in the crash. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families at this very difficult time."

Glasgow Central Mosque said Mr and Mrs Aslam were popular members of the community.

A Facebook post by the Mosque read: "We understand they had just completed the Umrah pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah (Mecca) and were travelling in a minibus to visit the holy city of Madinah.

"We have every confidence in the Saudi authorities currently investigating the crash and in giving the dearly departed due dignity and decorum.

"Mr Mohammad Aslam and Mrs Talat Aslam were popular members of the community and are survived by their five children. We pray Allah the Almighty grants the deceased a high rank in Paradise and gives their loved ones strength and patience at this difficult time.

"We would kindly request the family be given space and time to grieve for their loved ones and to come to terms with their sudden loss."

Umrah is a pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims made at any time of the year, differing from the annual Hajj which takes place in the month of Dhul Hijjah, the 12th month of the Islamic lunar calendar.

The Hajj is seen as a mandatory religious duty that must be carried out at least once by adult Muslims who are physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey.

Last year it was held in September with more than one million Muslims travelling to Saudi Arabia.

Two other sisters of the deceased women from Manchester, mother-of-five Fozia Zahid, and Sadia Chaudry, are said to be critically ill in hospital.

Mrs Zahid's nephew, Asif Shafique, said: "My aunt is a very lovely person and a very lovely personality."

Her daughter, Farah Zahid, told the Manchester Evening News: "We are a very close knit family. This has been devastating for all of us. Our family is never going to be the same again.

"Everyone is either in shock or completely heartbroken. We are very lucky that our family is well known in Manchester and Glasgow and that there has been a huge show of support from the community already."

The Manchester and Glasgow families on the bus are close friends, while the baby's mother, Ataka Anis, is also said to be fighting for her life in hospital in Medina along with her other children, aged two and three, added the newspaper.

Mohammed Arif, director of Levenshulme-based Haji Tours, who organised the trip for the families, told reporters his staff had been told the crash was an accident and that a tyre of the vehicle involved, a 2016-model Toyota Hiace van, burst during the journey.

The company has organised for concerned relatives to fly out to Saudi Arabia.

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