Ivory Coast fans blame police for deadly stampede

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March 31, 2009 01:32

 
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Fans who survived a deadly stadium stampede in the Ivory Coast blamed police Monday for the tragedy, saying security forces provoked the panic by tear gassing people who had nowhere to run. World soccer body FIFA called for a prompt investigation into the stampede Sunday at Abidjan's Felix Houphouet-Boigny arena that left 19 people dead and injured more than 130. The president of Ivory Coast declared a three-day period of mourning. Tens of thousands of fans turned out to see Chelsea striker Didier Drogba - a native of Ivory Coast - as the home team squared off against Malawi at a World Cup qualifying match. Interior Minister Desire Tagro said on state TV that fans outside the stadium began pushing and shoving before the game began, setting off the panic. But witnesses said that as fans tried to get into the stadium, police fired tear gas into the crowd, setting off the stampede. The weight of the fans pushing forward caused a wall to come crashing down, according to an AP photographer and other witnesses. An Abidjan morgue listed 19 dead, and Tagro gave the number of injured as 132.

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