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Iran: Saudi Arabia Should Apologize for Hajj Deaths

  • VOA News

A handout picture released by the official website of the Center for Preserving and Publishing the Works of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shows him delivering a speech in Tehran, Sept. 27, 2015.

A handout picture released by the official website of the Center for Preserving and Publishing the Works of Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, shows him delivering a speech in Tehran, Sept. 27, 2015.

Iran is demanding that Saudi Arabia apologize for the crush outside the holy city of Mecca that killed 769 people during the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday in a statement on his website, "the Saudis should accept the responsibility and apologize to the Muslims and the victims' families . . .This issue will not be forgotten and the nations will pursue it seriously . . . The Islamic World has a lot of questions."

The yearly event ended without incident Saturday.

Iranians meanwhile continued protests Sunday outside the Saudi embassy in Tehran for a third straight day.

Playing politics accusation

Saudi Foreign Minister Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir on Sunday accused Iran of politically exploiting the tragedy.

On Saturday, Saudi Health Minister Khalid al-Falih said 934 were injured Thursday in the crush at Mina. Iranians comprise the largest group of deaths identified so far at 169. Iranian state TV says a former ambassador to Lebanon is among the 307 Iranians still missing.

Tehran accused the Saudis of "crimes" and incompetence, and vowed to take legal action in international courts. Iranian leaders say the Saudi kingdom is no longer capable of managing an event that draws more than 2 million people each year.

Iran's state prosecutor, Ebrahim Raisi, said Saudi Arabia's poor management of the crowds of pilgrims amounted to criminal acts "under international law." Speaking on state television in Iran, he repeated an unconfirmed story contending that local authorities caused the fatal crowding by diverting pilgrims away from a road that was being used by a convoy of the Saudi royal family.

Pilgrims have blamed the stampede on police road closures and poor management.

Meanwhile, authorities in Egypt say 55 Egyptians were killed in the stampede.

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