The siege of Mecca

Witness History

By BBC World Service

The siege of Mecca

Monday, 26 April

In 1979 Islamist militants seized control of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, the holiest site in Islam. Hundreds were killed as Saudi security forces battled for two weeks to retake the shrine. The militants were ultra-conservative Sunni Muslims who believed that the Mahdi, the prophesied Redeemer, had emerged and was a member of their group. The BBC's Eli Melki spoke to eyewitnesses who were inside the Grand Mosque during the siege. Photo: Fighting at the Grand Mosque in Mecca after militants seized control of the shrine, November 1979 (AFP/Getty Images)
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