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Several killed in Algerian rap concert stampede

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At least five people have been killed and dozens more injured in a stampede at a packed rap concert in the Algerian capital, Algiers, a spokesman for the rescue services said.

The crush took place on Thursday night as fans thronged the entrance of the August 20 stadium where Algerian rapper Soolking was to perform.

Captain Nassim Bernaoui of the civil protection unit told AFP news agency that “two young girls aged 19 and 22 and three boys aged 13,21 and 16,” were killed.

About 40 people were taken to the hospital, of whom eight were in critical condition, Bernaoui said.

Dozens more suffered minor injuries, 86 of whom were treated on the spot, he added.

Thousands of fans began gathering outside the stadium from mid-afternoon on Thursday, according to Akram Kharief, an Algerian journalist who specialises in defence and security issues.

“There were only four small entrances allowing people to enter one at a time,” Kharief told AFP.

“This caused a stampede … and people fell” as they pushed to get inside before the start of the concert,” he added.

The stampede took place at about 19:00 GMT, according to APS news agency.

The concert went ahead with a 30-minute delay and was broadcast on national TV. More than 30,000 people were estimated to have attended the concert, APS reported.

Soolking has made no comment on the incident on his social media channels.

The 29-year-old, whose real name is Abderraouf Derradji, has a huge number of fans in the country.

The France-based artist shot to stardom last year and was to play just one concert in his native Algeria.

His song La Liberte has become a mainstay of anti-government protests that entered their seventh month on Friday.

Algerians launched the unprecedented protest movement in February, initially against a bid by veteran President Abdelaziz Bouteflika to seek a fifth term in office.

Bouteflika eventually resigned in the face of mass protests but the movement has continued to rally weekly on Fridays to demand a complete overhaul of the ruling elite.

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