No security concerns at Muslim pilgrimage climax, Saudis assure
Saudi authorities have no security concerns over the millions of Muslims performing the hajj pilgrimage, the spokesman for the oil-rich kingdom's Interior Ministry, Mansur al-Turki, was quoted as saying Saturday, dpa reported.
"There is no information about a potential threat to the safety of pilgrims or to security in general," he told the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq Al Awsat.
More than 3 million Muslims are to Saturday climb Mount Arafat at the peak of the annual hajj rituals.
Over the past years, there have been fatal incidents during the hajj because of the surging crowds, violence and fires. In 1987, Iranian pilgrims rioted, causing 400 deaths.
In 2006, about 346 pilgrims of different nationalities were killed in a stampede during a ritual involving a symbolic stone throwing at the devil.
White-robed pilgrims were Saturday heading to Mount Arafat, a granite hill to the east of the holy city of Mecca, amid tight security measures.
It is at this site that Islam's Prophet Mohammed is said to have delivered his Farewell Sermon to those who accompanied him on the hajj 14 centuries ago.
The ascent to Arafat is a key ritual of the hajj, which every able-bodied Muslim is required to perform at least once in their lifetime.