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18 injured in Mecca stampede, Saudi media says

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RIYADH — At least eighteen pilgrims have been injured in a stampede near Islam`s holiest site, Saudi media reported on Saturday, as the kingdom continues to review safety after a deadly crush during last year`s hajj.

The incident occurred on Friday night near the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the Al-Riyadh newspaper said, as Muslims gathered in large numbers to mark the Night of Destiny, one of the high points of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

All the injured were treated at the scene and none required admission to hospital, the newspaper cited a health official as saying.

Every year, hundreds of thousands of pilgrims flock to Mecca to carry out the lesser umra pilgrimage during Ramadan — especially during its last 10 days.

They include the Night of Destiny, when the angel Gabriel is believed to have given the Prophet Mohammed the verses of the Koran.

The incident comes as Saudi authorities continue to unveil new safety measures for this year`s hajj in September.

A crush at last year`s hajj killed more than 2,000 pilgrims in the worst disaster to ever strike the annual ritual.

According to figures from foreign officials, at least 2,297 pilgrims died. Saudi Arabia issued a death toll of 769.

Newspapers reported on Friday that, among new security measures, hajj pilgrims this year will have to wear an electronic safety bracelet to store their personal information, including address and medical records.

AFP

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5 dead as gunman attacks churchgoers in Russia

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At least five people were killed and another five were injured when a gunman attacked a crowd of people leaving a church on Sunday in Russia’s southern province of Dagestan, Russian news agencies reported.

The attack occurred in the village of Kizlyar in the Muslim-majority republic of Dagestan.

Russian news agencies said the attack occurred as churchgoers celebrated Maslenitsa, a Christian holiday marking the last day before Lent according to the eastern Orthodox calendar.

CCTV footage from the site of the deadly shooting shows a man armed with a rifle gunning down two women in broad daylight.

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A bearded man clad in a black vest and camouflage pants was seen crossing the street before opening fire on two female churchgoers as they left a service in Kizlyar in the Republic of Dagestan on Sunday afternoon. A woman walking several meters from the attacker was seen rushing away as the bloodshed unfolded.

The attacker was identified as a 22-year-old man local to the region, the TASS news agency said, citing the investigative committee.

He was shot and killed by security services who were on duty nearby, TASS said, adding that a hunting rifle, bullets and a knife were discovered on his person.

Initial reports suggested all five victims were women, TASS said, citing the local branch of the interior ministry.

Agencies

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