Accidents claim 15 pilgrims

2010-02-02 15:48

Dakar - Fifteen Muslim pilgrims have died in road accidents since Sunday during the annual pilgrimage to the holy city of Touba, which attracts hundreds of thousands of Senegalese, the fire service said.

The series of accidents happened as pilgrims left different regions of the country for Touba, 187 kilometres from the capital Dakar, which is the holy city of the Mourides, a large Islamic order founded in Senegal.

"Since the day before yesterday (Sunday) a total of 15 dead," Colonel Senghane Diagne, spokesperson of the national firefighters, said of the faithful headed to Touba for the pilgrimage which starts on Wednesday.

The worst fatal accident which left "11 dead at once" happened on Monday between the two central towns of Kaolack and Gossas when a minibus and a car collided, said Diagne.

Touba is Senegal's second city and was founded at the end of the 19th century by marabout Cheikh Ahmadou Bamba M'Backe, creator of Mouridism, who died in 1927.

The pilgrimage, or "Magal" commemorates the day M'Backe went into exile in Gabon on 12 August 1895, corresponding with 18th day of the month of Safar 1313 in the Muslim calendar.