11 killed in minibus blaze in Guinea-Bissau

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Bissau - Eleven people died when a minibus became trapped in a forest fire in rural Guinea-Bissau, police and doctors said on Friday.

The accident happened on Thursday night, after the overcrowded vehicle left the village of Konkoli, near the capital Bissau, on an 80km trip to a market in Bissora.

"The driver tried to go down a track in a forest which was on fire. There was no visibility because of the smoke and fire," a police official said. "(...) The passengers were trapped and died of suffocation."

Police recovered nine bodies, and two people who were injured later died, the official said. Nine others are being treated for injuries.

The toll was confirmed by sources at the local hospital.

The cause of the fire was not immediately known. At this time of the year, farmers in Guinea-Bissau often set fire to harvest stubble to eliminate weeds, and the blaze can spread from fields to the bush.

On January 5, a head-on collision west of Bissau between an overladen minibus and a truck hauling bricks left 18 dead and 14 injured.

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