Report: King Salman Orders Concealing Mina CCTV Records
“The Saudi king’s order came after some videos showing the main cause of the Mina tragedy were released on the Internet,” the Arabic-language Middle East Panorama news website reported.
It noted that another reason for collecting the Mina CCTV captured videos is related to a demand by the world Muslims and Hajj pilgrims to set up an international fact-finding committee to probe into the Hajj tragic incidents.
A stampede during one of the last rituals of the Hajj season killed more than 2,000 people and left 2,000 wounded.
The stampede occurred during the ritual known as “stoning the devil” in the tent city of Mina, about two miles from Mecca.
Some 155 Iranians have also lost their lives in the incident, while over 150 others have been wounded in the incident.
On Saturday, a well-known Saudi online activist said the kingdom’s authorities had been warned against overcrowding and a lack of organization prior to the crush that reportedly killed some 2,000 pilgrims in Mina, in one of the worst tragedies to hit the Hajj pilgrimage.
The activist known as @mujtahidd on Twitter wrote that CCTV cameras had recorded the excessive number of pilgrims nearly two hours before the September 24 stampede in Mina.
The activist added that the Saudi officials in charge had contacted high-ranking authorities ahead of the disaster, calling for reinforcements to maintain safety and manage traffic and crowds, but all to no avail.
Mujtahidd further noted that Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz Al Saud has also issued an order that footage from police cameras as well as all telephone conservations remain under seal.
The revelations come as a host of pilgrims have stated that they are terrified to continue the ritual stoning of the devil in Mina due to what they call lack of organization and incompetency of Saudi security personnel in handling the affairs.
The tragedy has cast doubt on the ability of Saudi authorities to manage the large influx of pilgrims into the kingdom during the Hajj pilgrimage season every year.
Meantime, sources revealed that the convoy of Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defense Minister Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud caused panic among millions of pilgrims and started the stampede.
“The large convoy of Mohammad bin Salman Al Saud, the King’s son and deputy crown prince, that was escorted by over 350 security forces, including 200 army men and 150 policemen, sped up the road to go through the pilgrims that were moving towards the site of the ‘Stoning the Devil’ ritual, causing panic among millions of pilgrims who were on the move from the opposite direction and caused the stampede,” several Arab papers, including the Arabic language al-Dyar newspaper, disclosed on Thursday evening.
“That’s why the ruler of Mecca has distanced himself from the case, stressing that the issue should be studied and decided by the King,” it added.
No other source has yet confirmed the report, but observers said the revelation explains why two of the roads to the ‘Stoning the Devil’ site has been closed.
Eye witnesses said earlier that the Saudi police and security forces had closed two of the few roads to the stone column that were to be used by millions of pilgrims to do the ‘Stoning the Devil’ ritual on Thursday.
Saeed Ohadi, the head of Iran’s Hajj organization, accused Saudi Arabia of safety errors and mismanagement.
He said for “unknown reasons” the paths had been closed off near the scene of the symbolic stoning of the devil ritual where the accident later took place.
“This caused this tragic incident,” he told the Iranian state television.
Eyewitness accounts said that even after incident the Saudi security and military forces closed all paths leading to the scene and the bodies of pilgrims have piled up on each other.