MAKKAH: Saudi King Salman on Saturday said the Kingdom has made great strides in protecting Muslim holy sites from terror attacks.
“The arms of terrorism have sought to harm the holy sites without any consideration to their sanctities,” he said during a reception in Makkah for dignitaries attending the annual Hajj pilgrimage.
“However, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — with Allah's help and in cooperation with the Kingdom's brothers and friends — have achieved great successes in eradicating terrorism and drying up its sources firmly and persistently,” he was quoted by the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) as saying.
Saudi air defense forces had in the past intercepted ballistic missiles launched from Yemen that targeted the holy city of Makkah.
Security forces have also arrested dozens of suspects linked to a suicide bomb attack in the holy city of Madinah during Ramadan last year.
“The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia represents the heart of the Muslim world. Therefore, it feels the pains of Muslims everywhere, strives to achieve unity, cooperation and solidarity in our Muslim world, and achieves security and peace in the whole world,” King Salman said.
On Friday, during a reception for Gulf and Saudi officials on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha, the king paid tribute to members of security forces, who lost their lives protecting the Kingdom.
He also congratulated Hajj pilgrims and cited security forces and all agencies concerned for a job well done in ensuring a smooth Hajj.
More than 2.35 million faithful participated in this year’s Hajj, including more than 1.75 million, from all corners of the globe, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has said. No untoward incident has been reported this year.
The Kingdom has deployed more than 100,000 security personnel to keep pilgrims safe this year.
King Salman said Saudi Arabia had devoted all its material and human resources to ensure the safety of pilgrims who come from all over the world to perform the five-day ritual, a religious duty to be undertaken once in a lifetime by every able-bodied Muslim who can afford the journey.
"We are determined, with God's permission, to continue to provide the highest level of services for the two holy mosques ... to ensure the safety of those who seek the sacred house of God," he said.
As pilgrims took turns to complete the last rites of Hajj, the king returned to Jeddah.