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Multiple deaths in DR Congo soccer stampede

Fifteen people have been reported dead after trouble broke out at a soccer match in the Democratic Republic of Congo. A stampede was said to have begun after police fired tear gas into the stands.

Police fired the tear gas canisters into the crowd on Sunday amid violence between the fans of Kinshasa's popular ASV Club and those of visiting side TP Mazembe.

As well as the 15 fatalities, a further 21 people were badly hurt, according to local officials.

Officers had come under pressure from home fans grew angry that their team was losing the important playoff, said Emmanuel Akweti, the minister responsible for the Kinshasa's inner city.

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

National television and radio said fans had begun throwing projectiles, including stones, from the stands.

Collapse of wall

Supporters were said to have been blinded by the gas, with the panic and confusion contributing to the collapse of a stadium wall. Suffocation was reported to have been the cause of death in most instances.

Ahead of the match, dozens of police were deployed around the ground, the two sets of fans having clashed in the past.

TP Mazembe are multiple champions from the southeastern part of the country and are financed by businessman and regional governor Moise Katumbi.

Stampedes are not uncommon at public events in DR Congo, with

at least 21 people killed at a crowded music festival

last month.

rc/crh (AFP, Reuters)

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