Eight people died and twenty others were injured on Wednesday in a stampede which occurred in the Mauritanian capital Nouakchott during a distribution of alms to the poor.
According to a source at the hospital where the bodies were transferred, the dead victims were all older women and about two dozen injured people had already been discharged from the hospital, the source told AFP on condition of anonymity.
The stampede occurred in a walled yard in central Nouakchott, where hundreds of people flocked to receive Zakat – a form of tax in Islam given as alms to the poor – distributed by businessmen who own the yard.
“It is a group of Mauritanian businessmen, Zein El Abidine Ould Cheikh Ahmed, who organized the Zakat ceremony in accordance with the laws of Islam. The activity was permitted and the organizers fulfilled all the necessary administrative procedures,” another source told AFP adding that “the lack of organization and the low wall in front of the venue are among the factors behind the tragedy.
The interior minister of Mauritania, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, is reported to have immediately gone to the scene to inquire about the situation when it happened, the undisclosed source said without giving further details.
Until Wednesday night, no official comment was made and the businessmen who into general trading and real estate development, had not made any statements as well.
According to witnesses, those receiving the envelopes of cash were mostly needy people from poor areas of Nouakchott.
The security guard at the venue of distribution said he saw people being evacuated by ambulances to the main hospital in the capital.