11 February 2003
Fourteen Muslim pilgrims were trampled to death Tuesday during the final stage of the Islamic pilgrimage known as the Hajj. Two million pilgrims are in Saudi Arabia for the annual journey that takes place from Mecca to Mount Arafat.
The commander of security forces in Mecca said the stampede occurred while pilgrims, were returning to their camps Tuesday morning following an Islamic ritual in Mena.
Authorities said those who were killed and injured fell to the ground and were trampled amid a huge crowd of pilgrims who had taken part in the ritual of throwing stones at three pillars that symbolize the devil. The pilgrims traditionally try to get as close as possible to the pillars to throw their stones.
The Stoning of Satan marks the first day of Eid al-Adha, or Feast of Sacrifice, and is the last stage of the annual five-day Hajj which retraces the steps of Islam's prophet Muhammad 14 centuries ago.
The stoning ritual has been the source of fatal incidents several times in the past.