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At Least 26 Killed In Stampede At Timbuktu Mosque

At least 26 people have been crushed to death in a deadly stampede in the famous Djinguereber mosque in the city of Timbuktu in the West African nation of Mali, said officials on Friday.

The stampede is also reported to have left dozens of others injured, who were rushed to the hospitals in the city for treatment. Most of the victims are said to be women and children.

The stampede occurred when thousands of pilgrims were heading through a narrow passage to the mosque to celebrate the Muslim festival of Maouloud, the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed.

Officials said the stampede broke out when the pilgrims moving through the narrow passage panicked after they encountered a bottleneck caused by renovation work being carried out on the 14th century mosque.

It is understood that the ongoing renovations at the historic Djinguereber mosque, the most prominent landmark in Timbuktu, is being financed by the Aga Khan, leader of the world's 15 million Shiite Ismaili Muslims.

Djinguereber mosque is the largest in Timbuktu and is one of the city's three great mosques, the other two being the equally famous Sankore and Sidi Yahya mosques.

The city of Timbuktu is located some 620 miles southwest of Mali's capital city of Bamako. It was a renowned intellectual and religious center during the 15th and 16th centuries and was instrumental in spreading Islam across Africa.

Timbuktu and its monuments are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and the historic buildings in the city requires constant renovation to keep them in shape.

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