At least 30 worshipers, including 11 children and a pregnant woman, were killed in a stampede at a religious rally in Liberia’s capital, officials announced on Thursday.
Police spokesman Moses Carter revealed that the incident occurred at around 9 pm on Wednesday at a Christian prayer gathering in New Kru Town, a poor suburb of Monrovia, Liberia’s capital.
“The death toll is provisional and “may increase” as some people are in critical condition,” Carter said.
He added that a group of young boys attempted to rob worshippers as they were leaving the gathering, causing them to retreat in panic.
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Deputy Minister for Press Jallawah Tonpoe told reporters at Monrovia’s Redemption Hospital that there were fifteen people, including seven children, who had been admitted to the hospital.
Accordingly, President George Weah declared a three-day period of mourning and ordered an investigation, according to his office.
One of the attendees, Elisabeth Wesseh, told AFP that “zogo boys” — a local term for young criminals — had threatened worshippers with knives at the entrance, demanding money and telephones.
“We got afraid and started rushing to the door,” the 34-year-old said, adding that the doorway was too narrow for everyone to get through.
Eye witness Emmanuel Gray, 26, told AFP he heard “heavy noise” towards the end of the event, and saw several dead bodies.