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Sun 28 Sep 2014 11:42 AM

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1700 illegal pilgrims intercepted on way to Grand Mosque

Authorities say the pilgrims were arrested at police check points on the way to Makkah, as the kingdom prepares for Haj in early October

1700 illegal pilgrims intercepted on way to Grand Mosque
(AFP/Getty Images)

Saudi authorities have intercepted 1708 pilgrims attempting to enter the kingdom without Haj permits, Arab News has reported.

The arrests have been made at police checkpoints on roads leading to Makkah, where the Grand Mosque, Islam’s holiest site, is located.

Millions of Muslims are descending on the mosque for Haj, an annual ritual that this year is expected to occur at the beginning of October.

One of the five pillars of Islam calls for followers to perform Haj at least once in their lifetime.

However, in a bid to reduce crowding – some pilgrims have been crushed to death in previous years – there are a limited number of permits issued. The number has been reduced while the mosque undergoes a massive $20 billion renovation and extension.

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