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Published: Monday May 12, 2014 MYT 7:03:50 AM
Updated: Monday May 12, 2014 MYT 7:04:52 AM

At least 15 killed in Congo football stadium stampede

KINSHASA (Reuters) - 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.

(Reporting by Bienvenu Bakumanya; Writing by Emma Farge; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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