Iraq's defense minister was killed when his helicopter crashed during a sandstorm while returning from Iraqi Kurdistan to Baghdad, state-run Radio Baghdad reported Saturday. Iraq's enemy Iran claimed the minister was murdered.

Baghdad Radio broadcast a statement from Iraqi President Saddam Hussein announcing the death on Friday of Lt. Gen. Adnan Khairallah, 49, who the official Iraqi News Agency described as a brother-in-law and cousin of Hussein.Khairallah, who assumed the defense portfolio Oct. 15, 1977, was considered a favorite of Hussein and one of the most prominent figures in recent Iraqi military history.