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Kenya Muslims demand probe into Saudi stampede where six compatriots died

COAST
By Philip Mwakio | September 27th 2015

MOMBASA: Kenya Muslims have demanded answers following last Thursday’s stampede in Mina, Saudi during which over 700 pilgrims, among them about six Kenyans were killed performing one of the last rituals of the haj or pilgrimage.

Some Muslim organisations summed up Kenyans frustrations in extracting information about the whereabouts of their kin who are still in Saudi Arabia and how they are faring.

Sunday, Supreme Council for Kenya Muslims (Supkem) asked all travel agents who handled Kenyan pilgrims to this year’s Hajj to establish where their clients were.

Speaking on telephone Sunday, Supkem Secretary General, Adan Wachu condoled with families of those killed in the accident and disclosed that the over 40 travel agents who processed Kenya's pilgrims to this year's Hajj and asked them to carry out a head count to ascertain whereabouts of pilgrims.

''We are not getting free flow of information following the two subsequent incidences which occurred as the over 2 million Muslim pilgrims gathered for the Hajj in the Saudi Kingdom,'' Wachu.

He said SUPKEM is in in touch with the Head of the Kenyan Hajj Mission, Shariff Hussein for the latest information of Kenyans killed and missing or unaccounted for.

Even as Wachu made the pronouncements, a cross section of Muslim leaders called for faster and conclusive investigations into the incident which has claimed the largest number of pilgrims for the 25 years.

Sheikh Mohdhar Khitamy of Supkem chairman Coast branch said that Kenya Muslim organisations will push for a thorough examination of the whole pilgrimage exercise once the entire Kenyan Hajj delegation is back.

''We are anxious to know what actually befell our people who went for Hajj and will be keen to identify any gaps and challenges that need to be rectified so as to have an incident free Hajj next year,'' Khitamy said.

He conceded that they have not been able to get daily updates on the whereabouts of Kenyan pilgrims save for media and social media reports.

On Friday several Tanzanian newspapers reported that at least two pilgrims listed among Tanzanians killed in the Thursday stampede were actually Kenyans after travelling to Saudi Arabia from Tanzania with facilitation of Tanzanian travel agencies.

Kenya Muslim National Advisory Council (Kemnac) chairman, Sheikh Juma Ngao urged Muslims not to fear going to Hajj next year in spite of this year's tragedy.

'' We are all shocked at the extent of death and destruction leading to injuries and pray that Allah grant his mercies to those who perished and wish the injured quick recovery,'' Ngao said.

He appealed to Saudi authorities to ensure that expand facilities which pilgrims use in order to accommodate the ever growing number of Muslims from around the globe seeking to take part in the annual pilgrim.

 

The Kenyan death toll from Thursday's pilgrims stampede in the Saudi Arabian city of Mina climbed to six on Saturday, according to a representative of Kenya's delegation of pilgrims in the Middle East nation.

Five have been identified and one of them was a chief in Garissa County but there is still confusion over the dead and missing due to poor communication from Saudi Arabia and conflicting figures from the ministry of Foreign Affairs and Muslim organisations.

On Saturday the Foreign Affairs ministry said five Kenyan pilgrims had been confirmed dead by Saturday. The death toll according to Supreme Council for Kenya Muslims (Supkem) Organising Secretary, Shariff Hussein rose to six at the start of the weekend after the confirmation of deaths not made in the first count given on Friday.

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