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Special forces ensure pilgrims’ safety

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The emergency security plan launched by the special security forces at the Grand Mosque during a light rainfall on Tuesday was successful as it helped prevent stampedes and other accidents, said Maj. Gen. Abdullah Al-Osaimi, commander of special forces.

“We controlled the flow of pilgrims toward the circumambulation area around the Kaaba to ensure their safety and security,” he told Al-Madina Arabic daily.

Spelling out the duties of special forces, the commander said they monitor the mosque’s capacity and organize movement of pilgrims and worshippers to and from the mosque, especially during the five-time prayers as well as Taraweeh prayers.

“We keep the gates in the southern, western and northern parts of the mosque open for the entry of pilgrims and the eastern gates for their exit,” Al-Osaimi explained.

During Ramadan we keep open all the gates for entry of pilgrims into the mosque and its underground and first floors as well as the roof through bridges and electric stairs.

“There are 150 electric stairs in the mosque,” he pointed out.

Al-Osaimi said he has noticed a remarkable drop in negative practices being committed by pilgrims and visitors this year compared to previous years thanks to the security surveillance that has covered all parts of the mosque and increasing awareness among pilgrims.

“Our forces have been trained to prevent negative practices before they occur,” he said, adding that criminal intelligence officers play a significant role in this mission, especially in tracking down pickpockets and thieves.

He said security cameras that have been installed in and around the Grand Mosque also help prevent negative and criminal practices. The cameras help monitor overcrowding to take quick action by security officers.

“Our operation room is equipped with advanced facilities,” the commander said, adding that it gives instructions to officers on the ground to deal with emergency situations including possible stampedes. The operation room is manned by highly experienced officers, he said.

Al-Osaimi urged pilgrims and worshippers not to pray in the pathways inside the mosque as it would obstruct the movement of the worshippers to and from the mosque. “We have introduced a new system to absorb the crowds in the mataf area when worshippers line up for prayers by creating special pathways for their movement to vacant areas,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Cleaning at the Grand Mosque of the General Presidency for the Two Holy Mosques is working diligently to serve the House of Allah and its visitors during the holy month of Ramadan.

Director of the Department Mohammed Al-Jabri said the administration and its employees were well prepared to welcome the guests.

He pointed out that there are a number of tasks entrusted to the administration including the supervision and follow-up of the plan for cleanliness and services inside the Grand Mosque, supervision of the cleaning and maintenance of external facilities belonging to the Grand Mosque such as the King Abdul Aziz Complex for the Manufacturing of the Kiswa and the library of the Holy Mosque.

Al-Jabri said a total of 2,497 laborers work 24 hours a day to clean the mosque and adjoining facilities.

He stressed that the government of Saudi Arabia was making all efforts in the service of the House of God and the Prophet’s Mosque. These holy sanctuaries receive great attention and care from the leadership of the country through a number of mega projects, he added.

“Everything is done with the intention of ensuring ease and comfort for the worshippers including pilgrims and visitors,” Al-Jabri said.

[source: Saudi Gazette]
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