The Interior Ministry is not expecting infiltrators to launch a surprise attack during the current Haj season.

“I affirm that there will be no surprise attack. We will not allow any surprise attacks to occur because we have security plans devised on the basis of past experiences in serving of pilgrims,” said Maj. Gen. Mansour Al-Turki, spokesman for the Ministry of Interior, at a press conference at the headquarters of Public Security in Mina.

“Second Deputy Premier and Interior Minister Prince Naif has clearly outlined what security preparations have been made for Haj, especially in preventing anything that would endanger pilgrims,” he added.

Al-Turki said it was premature to predict whether the number of pilgrims would be less than last year. “It is not yet time to say what the number of pilgrims will be. The official number of Haj permits issued to pilgrims and the number of illegal pilgrims will be issued on Friday,” he added.

Al-Turki said that nothing unexpected has occurred during the first phase of the ministry’s plans for Haj. The first phase ended on Tuesday.

“Officials at checkpoints to Makkah and holy sites will continue looking for illegal pilgrims until Friday,” he said. He urged all domestic pilgrims to adhere to Haj regulations to guarantee them a comfortable Haj. He also noted that pilgrims have not faced problems while performing the Tawaf (circumambulation).

Al-Turki said, “More than 20,000 security men have been sent to Jamrat Bridge to control crowding and thus ensure safety of pilgrims. The decision to ban small vehicles carrying less than 25 passengers is being implemented after studying it over the past two years.

“With the speed train project for the holy sites reaching its final stage of completion authorities have found that it is time to implement the ban on small vehicles.”

Speaking on the occasion, spokesman for the Ministry of Health Khaled Al-Mirghalani said the ministry started preparations for Haj well in advance and convened an international conference on H1N1 flu. He added that the ministry has also adopted a series of preventive measures at all land, sea and air entry points to the Kingdom.

“There is no fear of a swine flu outbreak in Haj largely because of the early precautionary measures being taken to deal with a breakout,” he said.

“Only four deaths and 68 cases have been reported among pilgrims,” he said attributing the deaths to people not taking enough precautionary measures before coming into the Kingdom.

He added that all hospitals and medical centers in Makkah and the holy sites are fully prepared to receive flu cases.

Answering questions about the controversy over the use of the vaccine, he said: “The World Health Organization never issued a warning against the H1N1 virus vaccine. It recommended the vaccine. While more than 70 million people the world over have been vaccinated none of them is known to have shown any negative indications.”

Speaking on the occasion, Dr. Khaled Al-Habshi from the Red Crescent said small vehicles such as motorcycles would be used as ambulances in certain locations of the holy sites that are difficult for large ambulances to reach.

There are also well-laid plans to counter natural calamities such as heavy rains and floods with sufficient numbers of boats, divers and rescue shelters, he said.
Source: Arab News