3rd LD Writethru: At least 20 killed in stampede at Tanzania church service

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DAR ES SALAAM, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- At least 20 worshippers were killed and 16 others injured in a stampede at a church service Saturday evening at a stadium in northern Tanzania, local police said on Sunday.

A group of worshippers packed a stadium in Moshi, a town at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, and crushed each other as they rushed to get anointed with blessed oil offered by a pastor.

"The stampede occurred between 7:30 p.m. (1630 GMT) and 8 p.m. on Saturday as worshippers rushed to doors of the stadium where the anointing oil was placed, causing the mayhem," Salum Hamduni, Kilimanjaro regional police commander, told Xinhua in a telephone interview.

Hamduni said that police requested Pastor Boniface Mwamposa who preached at the religious gathering to surrender himself for questioning.

Mwamposa delivered sermons across the country, especially in Dar es Salaam, the commercial capital, attracting huge crowds who believed that his blessed oil could cure diseases and bring prosperity.

Police arrested seven people in connection with the stampede, Hamduni added.

Among the seven arrestees, a pastor from the Calvary Assemblies of God Church was reported as the organizer of the religious gathering, running on Jan. 30 and Feb. 1, Hamduni said.

Police will review dozens of religious gatherings across the country that draw thousands of worshippers who seek a miracle cure, Tanzania's Inspector General of Police Simon Sirro said on state-run Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli sent a message of condolence to Kilimanjaro Regional Commissioner Anna Mghwira over the stampede. Enditem

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