|Hundreds of Muslims Crushed in Stampede during Ritual
16 January 2006
MINA, Saudi Arabia (AP) - Saudi officials say at least 345 Muslims have been trampled to death in the latest stampede to mar Islam's annual hajj pilgrimage.
The tragedy underlines the difficulty in managing one of the biggest religious events in the world, which this time drew more than two-and-a-half million Muslims.
Yesterday's deaths happened during a ritual called the "stoning of the devil," in which all the pilgrims must pass a series of three pillars representing the devil, which the faithful pelt with
stones to purge themselves of sin. Pilgrims who stumbled were crushed by the crowd.
Last week, the collapse of a building being used as a pilgrim hotel in Mecca killed 76 people.
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