Iran warns Saudi Arabia of ‘fierce’ action over Hajj dead

Iran’s Supreme Leader threatens Saudi Arabia with ‘fierce’ response if return of bodies from Hajj (Muslim Pilgrimage) stampede is delayed

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei

The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, threatened Saudi Arabia with “fierce” action on Wednesday over what he said was the failure of Saudi officials to return the bodies of more than 200 Iranians who were killed during a stampede in Mina last week.

The crush happened last Thursday just outside the city of Mecca, where millions of Muslims from all over the world had gathered for the Hajj (Muslim Pilgrimage).

While Saudi officials claim at least 769 people from multiple countries were killed during the stampede, Pakistani and Indian officials claimed Saudi Arabia released almost 1,100 pictures of those killed to diplomats.

Iran, meanwhile, has claimed the death toll exceeds 4,000 and has repeatedly called on Saudi Arabia to release the bodies of the dead to their home countries.

According to Iran's Hajj and Pilgrimage Organization Head Saeed Ohadi, 239 Iranian pilgrims were killed in the crush and another 100 were injured. 241 Iranians remain unaccounted for.

Speaking during a graduation ceremony for navy officers, Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei said "Saudi officials are failing to do their duties."

"If Iran wants to react... our response will be fierce," he added.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who on Monday called for "an independent and precise investigation” into the causes of this disaster, cut short a visit to New York on Tuesday to return to Iran in preparation for the first bodies to be delivered from Saudi Arabia.

On Wednesday, however, Rouhani summoned the Saudi ambassador to Iran after the delivery of the bodies was delayed. It was the fourth time the Saudi ambassador was summoned after the tragedy.

Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian has also complained that the families of the deceased have not consented to their relatives being buried in Saudi Arabia.

TRTWorld and agencies