Muslim pilgrims gather to perform noon and afternoon prayers at Namira Mosque in Mount Arafat, southeast of the Saudi holy city of Mecca, on September 11, 2016. AFP / AHMAD GHARABLI
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Saudi authorities deployed drones to watch over nearly 2 million pilgrims as they ascended Mount Arafat at the climax of the hajj on Sunday, part of stepped up efforts to avoid a repeat of last year's crush amid an escalating war of words with Iran.In one of the deadliest disasters to befall the annual Muslim rite in decades, the crush last year killed nearly 800 pilgrims, according to Riyadh, though counts by countries of repatriated bodies showed over 2,000 people may have died, more than 400 of them Iranians.Earlier in the week, Iran's supreme leader accused Saudi authorities of murdering pilgrims during the crush.Pilgrims from Iran are not attending hajj this year, after talks between the two Middle East powers over hajj arrangements broke down in May.
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