At least 29 people were killed, and several others were injured when an attempted robbery sparked a stampede at an all-night church event in Monrovia, Liberia's capital, on Wednesday. Eleven of the victims killed were children.
"The doctors said 29 persons died, and some are on the critical list," deputy information minister Jalawah Tonpo told state radio. "This is a sad day for the country."
According to Reuters, after offerings were collected during the Christian worship event in New Kru Town, a neighborhood on the outskirts of Monrovia, a group of armed men charged the stage and attempted to steal the money.
Street gang violence is reportedly common in Liberia. Gangs called Zogos regularly commit armed robberies using machetes and other small weapons.
"We saw a group of men with cutlasses and other weapons coming toward the crowd," Exodus Morias, a local resident who attended the event, told Reuters. "While running, some people dropped, and others fell on the ground and walked over them."
Moses Carter, a spokesman for the police force, could not confirm how or why the incident began but said that an investigation is currently underway.
According to the BBC, The organizer of the event, the radio host and World of Life Outreach International pastor known as Apostle Abraham Kromah, is cooperating with the police in the investigation.
Kromah's followers reportedly believe he has the power to heal and aid people through prayer.
On Thursday, Liberian president George Weah visited the site of the incident. He also declared a three-day period of mourning and noted that the Liberian Red Cross and Disaster Management Agency had been deployed to aid victims.
The bodies of the dead victims were taken to Redemption Hospital.
The current death toll is 29 people, though that number may rise as several others are still in critical condition.
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Edwin Remsberg
Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has written on her blog since 2012 and has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.