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Saudi Arabia Calls Hajj A Success as Pilgrimage Ends


Saudi Arabia says the annual Hajj or pilgrimage, which has drawn to a close, has been a success.

In comments reported in Saudi media, Prince Nayef, the kingdom's interior minister praised the nation's security services. He said they performed well in protecting more than 2 million pilgrims during the grueling five-day pilgrimage around the holy city, Mecca.

As the Hajj drew to a close, pilgrims circled the Kabba, Islam's holiest site, for the last time before preparing to leave the Kingdom.

The Saudi Press Agency reported that no cases of heat exhaustion were reported among the pilgrims. It said nearly 600 worshippers died from disease or old age.

Last year, more than 300 pilgrims were crushed to death in a stampede during a devil stoning ritual at the Hajj.

The Kingdom spent more than $1 billion on renovations and safety measures for the pilgrims.

The Hajj came as tensions were growing between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims. There were no reports of disorderly conduct.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.