Stampede in Bangladesh kills at least 10 pilgrims

DHAKA (AFP) - At least 10 Hindu pilgrims were killed and dozens more were injured in a stampede outside the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka on Friday, police and witnesses said.

The stampede occurred on the banks of the Brahmaputra river, where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims had converged for ritual bathing during an annual Hindu festival.

Police inspector Nasir Ahmed said seven women and three men had been confirmed dead.

"We are investigating what triggered the stampede, but it seems that the tragedy was due to an unusually high number of pilgrims," Mr Ahmed told AFP.

"The stampede involved a huge number of people as thousands of shoes could still be seen on the road an hour after it happened," he added.

Witnesses said at least 50 people were injured in the stampede at the annual Astami Snan festival, around 25km south of Dhaka.

The annual rituals normally attract around one million pilgrims from Bangladesh and abroad to the river, which Hindus consider holy.

But district administrator Anisur Rahman said the number was higher this year because the festival fell during public holidays to mark Bangladesh's national day.

Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority country, but Hindus account for around 10 per cent of its 160 million people.

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