Muslim pilgrims pray as they prepare to leave Arafat on their way to Muzdalifah during the annual Hajj pilgrimage, near the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Saturday, Aug. 10, 2019 AP
Muslims from around the world hurled pebbles at a giant wall in a symbolic stoning of the devil on Sunday, the start of a key part of the annual hajj pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
The kingdom has deployed tens of thousands of security forces and medics and is also using modern technology including surveillance drones to maintain order.
Nearly 2-1/2 million pilgrims, mostly from abroad, have arrived for the five-day ritual, a religious duty once in a lifetime for every able-bodied Muslim who can afford it.
They are asked to follow carefully orchestrated schedules for each stage of haj, but with so many people, panic is a constant danger.
Under close supervision, pilgrims clad in white robes signifying a state of purity converged on Jamarat to perform the stoning ritual from a three-storey bridge erected to ease congestion after stampedes in previous years.
Saudi authorities have also urged pilgrims to set aside politics during the hajj.
*This story was edited by Ahram Online