Security still a major concern as pilgrims complete the hajj

As pilgrims complete the first of the three days of symbolically stoning the devil, security personnel keep watch over the crowd from a command and control centre located in Mina.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Muslim pilgrims throw pebbles at pillars during the "Jamarat" ritual, the stoning of Satan, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, on September 13, 2016.

Updated Sep 14, 2016

Under a bank of monitors broadcasting live footage from more than 5,000 cameras, Saudi officers have kept their eyes on every route and gathering spot at this year's hajj pilgrimage.


Muslim pilgrims walk towards the location where they throw pebbles at pillars during the "Jamarat" ritual, the stoning of Satan, in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, on September 13, 2016.

As pilgrims complete the first of the three days of Tashriq, a period wherein pilgrims symbolically stone the devil in Mina, Saudi authorities have been at pains to assure the world that every possible measure has been taken to prevent a repeat of last year's disaster at the hajj that cost the lives of around 2,300 pilgrims in a stampede.

 

An "eye" which never closes forms the heart of the command and control centre located in Mina, near Mecca, said Colonel Saad al-Dosari, its planning chief.


A general view shows a helicopter transporting journalists flying over Mina near the holy city of Mecca, during the hajj pilgrimage on September 13, 2016.

Another officer, Captain Tareq al-Azam, told AFP that his dozens-strong team has been on duty around the clock monitoring this year's 1.8 million pilgrims who have converged on the desert kingdom from across the globe.

More than 5,000 cameras have been installed in the entire Mecca sector covering a radius of around 10 kilometres (six miles) around its Grand Mosque, the single holiest place in Islam.


A Saudi soldier monitors screens as they sit on duty at the command and control operation center in Mina near the holy city of Mecca, on September 13, 2016.

From his vantage point, the captain can direct the cameras and is able to zoom in to investigate any suspicious-looking or potentially dangerous activity.

Dozens of soldiers are posted at the centre, located a few metres away, with headphones on and microphones at the ready to pass on information to the tens of thousands of members of the security forces on the ground.


An aerial view shows of Muslim pilgrims from all around the world circling around the Kaaba at the Grand Mosque, in the Saudi city of Mecca.

Having completed the mandatory rituals including the trimming of the hair and the slaughtering of an animal, pilgrims will now return to Mecca to perform the farewell circumambulation around the Kaaba.

This year's hajj, which started last Saturday and ends on Thursday, has been free of any major incident.

Source: 
TRTWorld and agencies