At least 15 killed in Congo football stadium stampede

Reuters| Last Updated: May 12, 2014, 10:38 AM IST

Kinshasa: At least 15 people were killed after police fired tear gas in a crowded football stadium in Democratic Republic of Congo, provoking a stampede, according to a police source and a local official.

Fans in Kinshasa grew angry on Sunday evening after their local team was defeated 1-0 by a team from the eastern town of Lubumbashi in a heated final, according to Emmanuel Akweti, local minister for the capital`s inner city.

"Four policemen were harassed by supporters. When they fired tear gas, the stampede began, causing the deaths," he told Reuters on Sunday.

Images on a local television station showed plumes of smoke rising from the stadium`s bleachers. Supporters, blinded by the gas, ran in different directions, sometimes falling over, the footage showed.

Akweti said 15 people died of suffocation and 24 were injured. A police source who declined to be named put the death toll higher, at 18.

A Reuters witness counted 14 bodies lying on benches outside the main hospital in Kinshasa.

Stampedes are a frequent occurrence at crowded events in Congo. Last month at least 21 people were killed when a power cut caused a stampede at a crowded music festival.