Senegal school fire - 9 children dead

2013-03-04 18:57
A grieving relative kneels in prayer in front of an unmarked grave in Dakar, Senegal. (Rebecca Blackwell, AP)A grieving relative kneels in

A grieving relative kneels in prayer in front of an unmarked grave in Dakar, Senegal. (Rebecca Blackwell, AP)A grieving relative kneels in

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Dakar - At least nine children, all pupils of a Qur'anic school and believed to have been exploited as beggars, died in a fire in Dakar overnight, the Senegalese news agency said Monday.

"Nine children perished and another one sustained serious burns," APS said.

The agency said 40 children, whose exact ages were not known, "were crammed into a room" when the fire started, it said.

The cause of the fire, which gutted a building near central Dakar, was not immediately clear.

"It's a tragedy. To learn that that many children have died and who aren't [even] identifiable, that's shocking," Health Minister Eva Marie Coll Seck told radio station RFM.

Dakar's Mayor Khalifa Sall said the fire raised questions about urban planning in the capital. "The medina was one of the better-off neighbourhoods of Dakar, but firefighters could not even access it... because people have built everywhere".

Human rights groups have long criticised Senegal over the rising phenomenon of Qur'anic teachers sending their young disciples - who often live in poor conditions - off to beg.

Read more on:    senegal  |  religion  |  west africa

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