By P.K. ABDUL GHAFOUR
The Saudi government has beefed up security in Makkah to protect millions of pilgrims from different parts of the world coming to perform Umrah and attend prayers at the Grand Mosque during Ramadan.
“We have deployed about 31,000 men inside and outside the Grand Mosque to ensure the safety and security of the guests of God,” said Brig. Maeed bin Musleh Al-Joaid, deputy commander of the special forces. Speaking to reporters, he said: “Our aim is for pilgrims to have peace of mind, so they can concentrate on their prayers.”
The security force officers can speak different languages including English, Urdu, French and Persian to communicate with visitors. “Some of them know sign language,” he added.
Apart from crowd control, security officers will offer various humanitarian services. They will also organize the movement of worshippers between gate 87 on the west side of the mosque and gate 32 on the northern side before and after each prayer.Brig. Masoud Al-Odwani, commander of support forces in Makkah, said 14,500 additional officers have been deployed in the city, bringing the total to 31,000 including traffic police.
He said the additional officers provide back up for the special forces, including Haj and Umrah forces and traffic police. “All these forces have been in place since Monday,” he added.
Col. Saeed Al-Qarni, director of the patrol police in Makkah, said his staff would work around the clock, adding that 40 field leaders have been appointed to organize their work. “There are about 300 teams including secret police.”
Col. Talal Al-Motairy, assistant director of traffic, said his officers have been placed along the roads leading to Makkah to control traffic and divert vehicles to parking areas outside the city.