Saudi-Iraqi border sees heavy flow of pilgrims headed for Hajj

A member of the Saudi border guards patrols the fence on Saudi Arabia's northern border with Iraq, near Arar City, in this February 23, 2015 file photo. (AFP)
Updated 18 August 2017

Saudi-Iraqi border sees heavy flow of pilgrims headed for Hajj

ARAR: The Arar crossing on the Saudi-Iraqi border is seeing a heavy flow of Iraqi pilgrims heading to the Kingdom to perform Hajj.
It has also been attracting diplomats. Saudi minister of state for Gulf affairs, Thamer Al-Sabhan, and Brett McGurk, US special envoy for the anti-Daesh coalition, on Wednesday inspected the crossing.
This came two days after a similar visit by Saudi Ambassador in Baghdad Abdul Aziz Al-Shemary, and his Iraqi counterpart Rashid Al-Any.
The vice president of the Anbar provincial council, Faleh Al-Issawi, said he had received Al-Sabhan and McGurk at the crossing.
Sabhan tweeted a picture of himself with McGurk and Al-Issawi during his visit, with the caption “from the Iraq of fraternity and brotherhood.”
Al-Issawi said the visit was intended to “inspect the crossing, its working mechanism and the mechanism of receiving Hajj pilgrims, in addition to its readiness for trade between Riyadh and Baghdad.”
The deputy governor of Anbar, Mustafa Al-Ersan, said the visit is “a positive step,” and the crossing will be open after the Hajj season for bilateral trade.
Saad Al-Hadithi, spokesman of Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi, said: “There is an agreement with Saudi Arabia on reopening the crossing for trade and visits between the two countries.”
The decision was made during Al-Abadi’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Al-Hadithi said, adding that Riyadh and Baghdad are also preparing to reopen the Jamima crossing.

Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

Updated 53 min 3 sec ago

Two Saudis among 31 foreigners killed in Easter Day attacks in Sri Lanka

  • Mohamed Jafar and Hany Osman, cabin crew with Saudi Arabian Airlines, were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels targeted
  • Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi says officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests

COLOMBO: Two Saudis were among 31 foreigners killed in a string of Easter Sunday suicide bombings in Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan Foreign Ministry said on Monday, a day after the devastating attacks on hotels and churches killed at least 290 people and wounded nearly 500.

The extent of the carnage began to emerge as information from government officials, relatives and media reports offered the first details of those who had died. Citizens from at least eight countries, including the United States, were killed, officials said.

Among them were Saudis Mohammed Jafar and Hany Osman. They worked as cabin crew on Saudi Arabian Airlines, and were in transit and staying at one of the three hotels that were hit.

Saudi Ambassador Abdulnasser Al-Harthi said that officials are awaiting the results of DNA tests on the two Saudi victims, and only after these are received will their names be confirmed.

Cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne said the Sri Lankan government believes the vast scale of the attacks, which clearly targeted the minority Christian community and outsiders, suggested the involvement of an international terrorism network.

“We don’t think a small organization can do all that,” he said. “We are now investigating international support for them and their other links — how they produced the suicide bombers and bombs like this.”

The attacks mostly took place during church services or when hotel guests were sitting down to breakfast. In addition to the two Saudis, officials said the foreign victims included one person from Bangladesh, two from China, eight from India, one from France, one from Japan, one from The Netherlands, one from Portugal, one from Spain, two from Turkey, six from the UK, two people with US and UK dual nationalities, and two with Australian and Sri Lankan dual nationalities.

Three of Danish billionaire Anders Holch Povlsen’s four children were among the foreigners who were killed, a spokesman for the family confirmed. Povlsen is the wealthiest man in Denmark, the largest landowner in Scotland and owns the largest share of British online fashion and cosmetics retailer Asos.

Two Turkish engineers working on a project in Sri Lanka also died in the attacks, the English-language Daily Sabah newspaper reported. Turkey’s foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu gave their names as Serhan Selcuk Narici and Yigit Ali Cavus.

Fourteen foreign nationals remain unaccounted for, the Sri Lankan foreign ministry said, adding that they might be among unidentified victims at the Colombo Judicial Medical Officer’s morgue.

Seventeen foreigners injured in the attacks were still being treated at the Colombo National Hospital and a private hospital in the city, while others had been discharged after treatment.