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1 Killed, 16 Injured in Mecca Blasts

July 11, 1989|From Reuters

NICOSIA, Cyprus — Two explosions, apparently bombs, rocked Mecca on Monday night, killing one person and wounding 16 others as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims streamed away from prayers at Islam's holiest shrine, the Grand Mosque.

A senior Interior Ministry official told the Saudi Press Agency that two of the injured were in critical condition.

The agency earlier quoted an unnamed official who called the blasts "a criminal act."

The explosions went off in roads leading from the Grand Mosque, which Muslims the world over face when they pray, as vast crowds were streaming away from the shrine after the final prayer of the day, witnesses said.

It was the second time in three pilgrimages that violence has struck during the hajj, the annual ritual that brings more than a million Muslims to the holy city.

Mecca and the hajj have been the focus of tension between Saudi Arabia's Sunni Muslim rulers and the Shiite Muslim leaders of Iran, who blame each other for riots there two years ago in which more than 400 people, mainly Iranian pilgrims, were killed. Iran is boycotting this year's hajj.

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