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At least 24 dead, 50 hurt in Yemen stampede

The stampede occurred at a stadium where President Ali Abdullah Saleh was holding a pre-election rally in the southern province of Ibb.

india Updated: Sep 12, 2006 19:09 IST
Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse

Twenty-four people were killed on Tuesday in a stampede at a stadium in southern Yemen during an election rally by President Ali Abdullah Saleh, a week ahead of polls already marred by violence.

"The number of dead has risen to 24", with more than 50 people injured, a local official in Ibb, some 180 kilometers south of Sanaa, said.

People were crushed to death when tens of thousands of people tried to gain entry into Ibb's stadium when it was already crammed with some 100,000 rallygoers, witnesses said.

The stampede occurred just minutes after Saleh had finished an election speech in the run-up to the September 20 presidential and local polls.

Bodies and injured people were seen lying on the ground as rescue teams and ambulances rushed to the scene.

The Ibb constituency, which has some 900,000 voters, is the second most important in Yemen after the capital Sanaa, and is an opposition stronghold.

Saleh kicked off his election campaign on August 30 and is virtually certain to win the presidential polls in which he faces four challengers.

The 64-year-old field marshal has been at the helm since 1978, first as president of the then North Yemen and then as leader of the unified state after north and south merged in May 1990.

The election campaign in the impoverished tribal-based Arabian peninsula country has been marred by acts of vandalism and violence, in which four people have been killed.

First Published: Sep 12, 2006 16:15 IST