Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, yesterday demanded that Saudi Arabia apologise for a stampede at the haj pilgrimage that killed almost 770 people, at least 144 of them Iranians.
Amir Abdollahian further noted that Saudi officials are expected to consider serious and effective cooperation and pay attention to their responsibility until the fate of all missing Iranian pilgrims is determined.
Relations between Syiah Iran and Sunni-dominated Saudi Arabia were already severely strained by conflicts in Yemen and Syria that Riyadh views as a bid by Teheran to expand its influence.
Thursday’s disaster, the worst to befall the haj in 25 years, happened when two large groups of pilgrims collided at a crossroads in Mina, a few kilometers east of Mecca, on their way to performing the “stoning of the devil” ritual at Jamarat.
He said contacts have been made with 217 missing Pakistani pilgrims and efforts are underway to reach the remaining missing pilgrims.
CAIRO (AP) – Iran, Egypt and Pakistan said Sunday that they had identified dozens more bodies from a crush of Muslim pilgrims three days ago that killed more than 700 people during the hajj in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking in New York, Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir accused Iran of exploiting the tragedy for political purposes.
Iran has criticised the kingdom over the hajj disaster, in which many Iranian Shia Muslims died, and daily protests have taken place near the Saudi embassy in Tehran.
Judgement Day came twice this month in Saudi Arabia and the leader of one of two warring factions of Islam wants the world to know that the other faction is responsible.
Authorities in India and Pakistan say Saudi officials have given diplomats a few 1,100 photographs of the dead from last week’s hajj crush and stampede.
But pilgrims blamed the stampede on police road closures and poor crowd management, during searing temperatures. Earlier in September, 111 pilgrims were killed and 331 others injured in a crane crash in the grand mosque of Mecca.
For years, the pilgrimage was marred by stampedes and fires but had been largely incident-free since 2006 after safety improvements and billions of dollars’ worth of infrastructure investments.