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Last Updated: Sunday, 1 February, 2004, 08:11 GMT
Saudis issue anti-terror message
Girl yawns at early-morning Eid al-Adha gathering in Jakarta, Indonesia
The Islamic world is celebrating one of its greatest feasts
Saudi Arabia's monarchy has called on Muslims worldwide to unite against terrorism in a message to mark an important Islamic holiday, Eid al-Adha.

Muslims should reject "hatred, extremism and terror", it said in a message carried by state TV on Sunday.

Some 1.4 million foreign Muslims are in Saudi Arabia this weekend on the annual Islamic pilgrimage, or Hajj.

After the event ended on Saturday pilgrims began marking Eid al-Adha, or the Feast of Sacrifice, at sunrise.

They and about 600,000 Saudi pilgrims flocked to the town of Mina, outside Mecca, to perform the ritual stoning of a pillar representing the devil and to slaughter sheep to mark the holiday.

The Eid celebrates the Prophet Abraham's readiness to sacrifice his son to show obedience to God.

The four-day event is being celebrated by Muslims around the world.

Militant threat

"The meanings of the Eid in Islam are many," said the message from King Fahd and Crown Prince Abdullah, which was read out on TV by Information Minister Fuad al-Farsi.

"They include uniting the Muslim nation on the good, away from hatred, extremism and terror which lead to mayhem and destruction which Islam has forbade and warned against."

Security was tight throughout the Hajj with helicopters monitoring the crowds and police ever present.

No incidents have been reported in Mecca but five members of the security forces and a sixth man were killed in a gun battle in the Saudi capital Riyadh on Thursday during an attempt to arrest suspected militants.

Police seized a large amount of weapons and explosives after the clash.

The Saudi authorities have been actively pursuing Islamic militants since suicide bombers struck at foreign diplomatic compounds in Riyadh last May.

That and other attacks have been blamed on the al-Qaeda group founded by Saudi-born fugitive Osama Bin Laden.

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