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Thirty injured in Pakistan mosque stampede

Around 30 people are injured in a stampede by devotees offering prayers with a prominent Saudi cleric at a mosque in Lahore.

world Updated: May 31, 2007 20:26 IST

Around 30 people were injured during a stampede by devotees offering prayers with a prominent Saudi cleric at a mosque in Lahore, news reports said on Thursday.

Worshippers straining to catch a glimpse of Sheikh Abdur Rehman Al-Sudais, the imam, or prayer leader, of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, caused an iron fence to collapse on people inside the courtyard of the historic Badshahi Mosque on Wednesday evening.

Many people were trampled in the ensuing panic and four of the injured were said to be in a serious condition.

Tens of thousands of people had come to see the imam but most had to stand outside the mosque walls. There were also chaotic scenes as police opened gates into the courtyard after the event, thinking devotees would start to filter out. Instead, those outside surged in.

In a bid to prevent a worse scene, electricity was reportedly passed through metal fencing to hold back the throng, Pakistan's The Nation daily reported.

Unable to use batons on the crowd, police drove people back with shoes and empty plastic drinks bottles, it said.

The imam arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday for a seven-day visit. After spending three days in Lahore he was due to visit Islamabad, where he was to meet President Pervez Musharraf, Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz and other officials.