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Monday, September 28, 2015

Hajj Commission: 56 Nigerians Killed, 61 Injured in Saudi Tragedy

Hajj stampede
  •  Many declared missing
The Chairman of the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, Alhaji Abdullahi Muhtar said last night that a total of 56 Nigerian pilgrims – 42 from nine states, two from the commission and 12 persons who worked for tour operators – were killed, while 61 sustained different degrees of injuries in the stampede that occurred on Thursday in Mina, Saudi Arabia.

But THISDAY gathered that the figure could be higher, as several pilgrims had still not been found by the authorities.
The states affected so far are Bauchi, Borno, Cross River, Jigawa, Nassarawa, Niger, Ogun, Lagos and Yobe.
The commission boss gave the official figures after meeting with top official of Nigerian mission in Saudi Arabia last night.

Meanwhile, Iran, one of the countries that lost 136 of its citizens has vowed to take international legal action against Saudi Arabia’s rulers.
But Saudi Arabian Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir has advised Iranian government not to play politics with the incident. “I believe that the Iranians should know better than to play politics with a tragedy that has befallen people who were performing their most sacred religious duty, which is the pilgrimage,” Ade Al-Jubeir stated.

Iranians comprise the largest group of casualties identified so far. Iranian state TV had said that a former ambassador to Lebanon, as well as two Iranian state TV reporters and a prominent political analyst were among those still missing. The semi-official Fars news agency said a former ambassador to Slovenia was among the dead.

“Under international law, this incident is absolutely subject to prosecution. The Al-Saud must be responsive,” Iran’s State Prosecutor Ebrahim Raisi told state TV, referring to Saudi Arabia’s ruling family.

He said Saudi authorities blocked a road used by hajj pilgrims to allow a royal convoy to pass through, causing the deadly convergence in the town of Mina on the outskirts of Mecca.

“They have to know that we will pursue the trial of Al-Saud for the crime they have committed against the hajj pilgrims through international courts and organisations,” he said.

However, neither Iran nor Saudi Arabia is a state party to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and only the court’s prosecutor can file charges.
Iran, however, could try to file a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), which handles disputes between nations but does not mete out criminal justice.
[Iyobosa Uwugiaren, This Day]

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