15 dead in Mali mosque stampede

BAMAKO: A stampede at the main mosque in Mali's northwestern city of Timbuktu left at least 15 people crushed to death and many more injured, officials and witnesses said on Friday.

"People were circling the mosque, a ritual at each Mouloud (the observance of the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed) and there was a huge crowd built up," one of the witnesses, Mohamed Bandjougou, said of the accident late Thursday.

"There were at least 15 dead. The bodies were taken to the morgue," he told AFP by telephone.

"I lost my sister. She was 16 and had gone to pray," said another resident, Ali Kounta.

Two officials said rescue services had "very quickly" helped the "many injured".

The well-known Djinguereber mosque, where the accident happened, is Timbuktu's largest.