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Last Updated: Sunday, 4 February 2007, 15:59 GMT
Dhaka pilgrimage draws millions
A train full of Muslim pilgrims heads back to Dhaka

Up to three million Muslims have held mass prayers in Bangladesh to end one of the world's biggest pilgrimages.

The Bishwa Ijtema brings devotees from more than 60 countries to a sandy riverbank near the capital, Dhaka.

The gathering is said to be the second biggest Islamic congregation after the Mecca pilgrimage.

Bangladesh President Iajuddin Ahmed and two former prime ministers - Begum Khaleda Zia and Sheikh Hasina Wajed - joined the final day of prayers.

Participants spend the three-day ceremony in prayer, discussing the Koran or listening to sermons.

The BBC's John Sudworth in Dhaka says the tented city on the banks of the River Turag has been packed with people from all corners of the world.

Tight security

Many devotees left the capital to attend the prayers on Sunday - a normal working day - with additional buses and trains laid on to the site.

Security has been tight with more than 10,000 police and troops on patrol.

Officials say there is no specific threat but Bangladesh, a majority Muslim but secular country, has a recent history of bombings by extremist groups advocating strict Islamic rule.

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