Hajj Stampede: Saudi-Iran Heat Up War Of Words Over Disaster

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Hajj death count rises to 199

Saudi Arabia has on Sunday been urged to apologise for the Hajj Stampede that killed nearly 770 pilgrims at the hajj, as a war of words escalated between the regional rivals.

Khamenei accused Riyadh of “playing a blame game”, after the Saudi foreign minister said Iran was playing politics with tragedy.

“Instead of passing the buck and playing a blame game, the Saudis should accept their responsibility and apologise to the world’s Muslims and the bereaved families,” Khamenei said in comments reported by the official IRNA news agency.

The Iranian government have of lately been fiercely critical of Saudi authorities’ handling of safety at the hajj, following Thursday’s stampede during a ritual stoning of the devil in Mina, near the holy city of Mecca.

Speaking during a UN development summit in New York on Saturday, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, said he wanted to “emphasise the need for swift attention to the injured as well as investigating the causes of this incident and other similar incidents in this year’s hajj.”

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir, also in New York for the UN General Assembly, said the Iranians “should know better than to play politics with a tragedy that has befallen people who were performing their most sacred religious duty.”

Saudi King Salman, whose official title is “Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques” in Mecca and Medina, ordered “a revision” of how the hajj is organised, state news agency SPA said.

A formal Saudi inquiry is under way into the stampede, the worst disaster to strike the annual pilgrimage in a quarter-century.

“And we will reveal the facts when they emerge. And we will not hold anything back. If mistakes were made, who made them will be held accountable,” Jubeir said, adding the kingdom has a long history of devoting “tremendous resources” to ensuring a successful pilgrimage.

“I would hope Iranian leaders would be more sensible and more thoughtful with regards to those who perished in this tragedy, and wait until we see the results of the investigation.”
– Yemen, Syria tensions –

It would be noted, at least 144 Iranians were killed in the crush — the highest confirmed toll among foreign nationalities. Tehran says 323 Iranians are missing.



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