Officials in Liberia claimed on Thursday that a rush of worshippers at a Christian ritual in a highly populated section of the city, Monrovia, killed at least 29 people, including 11 children and a pregnant lady.
At around 9 p.m. on Wednesday, a group of criminals armed with knives assaulted some of the hundreds of people who had gathered for the event, according to a police official.
He stated that one guy had been arrested.
According to authorities, the Rev Abraham Kromah, who was in charge of the service and leads a church in the New Georgia township of Monrovia, was also arrested and questioned about the event.
The dead were transferred to Redemption Hospital’s mortuary, which is located near where the event occurred in New Kru Town, a seaside neighborhood.
As news spread that people were being robbed on their way out, members of the church, the World of Life Outreach Mission International, attempted to escape via a tiny opening in a fence that encircled the soccer field, according to eyewitnesses.
On Thursday, Liberia’s president, George Weah, paid a visit to the scene and announced three days of national mourning.
Residents say street gangs have been a growing concern in Monrovia and other Liberian cities in recent years.
The participation of gang members in the stampede was cited by several groups as a major threat to Liberia.
It was a symptom of the “national security emergency facing the nation from its youthful population,” according to the Federation of Liberian Youth, a prominent organization in a country where over 60% of the population is under 25.
According to local media, a stampede at a similar prayer ceremony in Liberia’s capital in November 2021 killed two newborns and hospitalized numerous more.
Liberia, Africa’s oldest nation, is a poor country currently rebuilding from two civil wars that killed over 250,000 people between 1989 and 2003.
The Ebola pandemic in West Africa from 2014 to 2016 wreaked havoc on the country.
The World Bank estimates that 44% of Liberia’s population lives on less than $1.9 per day.
The UN’s Human Development Index, a barometer of prosperity, ranks Liberia 175th out of 189 countries and territories.