- At least 13 people were reported dead and 36 injured in a stampede which followed accusations that a soccer player was using witchcraft during a match in eastern Congo.
According to local reports, during a match between rivals Nyuki System and Socozaki, goalkeeper for Nyuki allegedly used witchcraft in an effort to help his team from losing.
Witchcraft is said to be widespread in central African state, but Socozaki's players are said to have reacted angrily when opposing keeper ran upfield to place symbols in their goalmouth. His action sparked a brawl between the two teams and eventually crowds were in riot.
A witness said clashes started at half-time when Nyuki's keeper removed stuff from his jersey and threw it into the net of their opponents.
"Socozaki players caught him and started beating him after alleging that he had tried to throw witchcraft in their net. His Nyuki teammates intervened and a fight broke out between the two sides," a witness said.
Police fired guns into the air to try to control violence and to protect their commander who was hit and wounded by fans, saying spectators were frightened as a result and ran for exits which led to stampede.
Most of victims who range between 11 and 16 years were suffocated as panicking crowds ran for exits during the mayhem on Sunday in Butembo in eastern Congo's North Kivu province.
Julien Mpaluku, governor of the province, said most victims were young with only two or three adults killed, further saying local government has set up an 11-member team to launch an investigation into the tragedy.
Dozens of teenagers marched through Butembo's streets yesterday in protest, and regional governor, Julien Mpaluku, paid a visit to the hospital.
He made no mention of witchcraft, but confirmed that soldiers had fired into the air to calm angry crowds. The shooting prompted panic instead, which became fatal "when the crowds all tried to leave at the same time."
North Kivu has been the epicenter of violence between Congo's army and rebels over the last year, which has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
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