Short-Changed Crowd Riots

December 7, 2003

Thousands of fans rioted at Sierra Leone's national stadium today when authorities substituted two local dwarf comedians for a widely anticipated out-of-town dwarf duo.

Police arrested 30 people, amid damage and dozens of injuries.

Daylong radio ads had whipped up excitement and ticket sales for last night's scheduled performance by the two Nigerian entertainers, Aki and Paw Paw.

The Nigerian performers failed to show by early morning. Organisers put the two local dwarf comedians on the stage instead.

Fans rioted, throwing projectiles and smashing windows, light fixtures and hundreds of chairs.

Witnesses said police fired tear gas. Authorities said 30 people were arrested, including eight who allegedly had tried to steal the stadium's seats.

Dozens of show-goers were reported injured in the melee. Today, blood splattered parts of the stadium.

Acting President Solomon Berewa, filling in while President Ahmed Tejan Kabbah is at a Commonwealth summit in Nigeria, toured the riot site today and condemned the violence.

Sierra Leone's national stadium was built as a gift from China. The stadium was under repairs for damage from the West African nation's devastating 10-year rebellion, which ended in January last year.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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