The annual hajj pilgrimage formally began on Tuesday when hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world started moving to Mina from the holy city of Makkah in Saudi Arabia.
According to Saudi media, almost three million Muslims from around the world including 24,000 Afghans were expected to perform this year’s hajj. Thousands of Arabs would also perform the hajj.
At war in Yemen and leading a coalition airstrike campaign against Islamic State militants in Syria, the Saudi government has deployed 100,000 security personnel to maintain security for the pilgrimage.
Undeterred by a crane crash earlier this month that killed 109 people and injured nearly 400 at the holiest site, the pilgrims on Tuesday started heading from Makkah city to Mina, where they would spend night and would climb mount Arafat on Wednesday --- the climax of the hajj season called Arafat Day.
After offering Zuhr (noon) and Asr (afternoon) prayers in Mina on Wednesday, the pilgrims would turn to Muzdalifa and spend the Wednesday night there. On Thursday, the first day of Eid-ul-Adha, the pilgrims in the morning would throw stones at Satan and then slaughter sacrificial animals before removing ihram.
A pilgrim from eastern Nangarhar province told Pajhwok Afghan News from Saudi Arabia over the telephone that they faced some minor problems in the beginning, but now those problems had been solved.
He said the pilgrimage started today and the pilgrims had started heading to Mina.
One Afghan was among those killed and 29 Afghans were among those injured in the crane crash.