Church Robbery Leaves Many Worshippers Dead And Injured In Monrovia, Liberia

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At least 29 people in Liberia, including 11 children and a pregnant woman, have died in a stampede of worshippers at a Christian ceremony in a densely populated area of the capital, Monrovia, officials said on Thursday.

The stampede erupted when a gang of thugs armed with knives attacked some of the hundreds attending the ceremony at about 9 pm on Wednesday, the police spokesman told reporters.

One person has been arrested, he said.

The Rev Abraham Kromah, who was holding the ceremony and who runs a church in the New Georgia township of Monrovia, was also brought in for questioning about the incident, police said.

The bodies have been taken to the morgue of Redemption Hospital, close to where the incident occurred in a beach area called New Kru Town.

As word spread that people were being robbed on their way out, members of the church, the World of Life Outreach Mission International, tried to get out through a narrow gate in a fence that surrounded the soccer ground, eyewitnesses said.

Liberian president, George Weah, visited the scene on Thursday and declared three days of national mourning.

Street gangs have become an increasing problem in Monrovia and other Liberian cities in recent years, according to residents.

Several organizations pointed to the gang members’ role in the stampede as a serious threat to Liberia.

The Federation of Liberian Youth, a powerful group in a nation where over 60 percent of the population is under 25, said that it was a sign of the “national security emergency facing the nation from its youthful population.”

A stampede at a similar prayer event in the center of Liberia in November 2021 killed two infants, and hospitalized several others, according to local media.

Liberia, Africa’s oldest republic, is an impoverished country that is still recovering after back-to-back civil wars between 1989-2003, which killed about 250,000 people.

It was also ravaged by the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola epidemic.

According to the World Bank, 44 percent of Liberia’s population lives on less than $1.9 a day.

The UN’s Human Development Index, a barometer of prosperity, ranks Liberia 175th out of 189 countries and territories.

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