A stampede at an outdoor religious service in Liberia left several injured and nearly 30 dead, including 11 children and a pregnant woman, officials said.
The incident happened on Wednesday night after a group of armed robbers broke into a Pentecostal service in New Kru Town, outside the capital Monrovia.
“Doctors have said 29 people are dead and some are on the critical list,” Liberian Deputy Information Minister Jalawah Tonpo said in a radio address on Thursday.
“It’s a sad day for the country,” he added.
While a police spokesman declined to comment on what exactly led to the deadly chaos, a man who was on duty told Reuters of the moment a group of men allegedly rushed into the crowd.
“We saw a group of men with cutlasses and other weapons coming towards the crowd,” Exodus Morias said. “While running, some people fell and others fell to the ground and stepped on it.”
The meeting, known as the Crusade, was organized by a well-known pastor known as Apostle Abraham Kromah, who leads the Word of Life Outreach International church, the BBC reported. Hundreds of worshipers were on the scene.
Kromah reportedly cooperated with police in the investigation.
President George Weah has declared a three-day period of national mourning.
He visited the area on Thursday and said regulations needed to be enacted to ensure similar services take place in a safe environment.