New Delhi:  Several people were killed in a stampede which erupted during a campaign rally of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari. The incident took place on Tuesday when the President was campaigning for the upcoming general elections in the country.

According to the reports, panic broke out at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium when crowds tried to force their way through a locked exit.

A statement was released saying that the president has been informed of the tragic deaths of several members of his All Progressives Congress (APC) party in a stampede during a presidential rally held in Port Harcourt in Rivers State.

Hospital authorities said that an exact number of people died in the accident cannot be confirmed now. Injured are still under treatment.

Saturday’s election in Africa’s most populous country will see Buhari stand for a second four-year term against former vice-president Atiku Abubakar in what is expected to be a close race.

In recent weeks, tensions have risen between the APC and Abubakar’s People’s Democratic Party (PDP). The PDP has accused the government of seeking to rig the vote while the APC has said the opposition party is fomenting unrest.

Five people were killed during weekend clashes between supporters of the two main political parties in the southeast, police had confirmed on Monday.

The victims, all APC members, were shot and killed on Sunday in an apartment in Effurun, near the oil city of Warri, said Delta state police spokesman Andrew Aniamaka.

The US, Britain and the European Union have in recent weeks publicly warned against vote-rigging and election violence, and also expressed concern over Buhari’s suspension of Nigeria’s top judge last month.

Nigeria’s last election in 2015 was considered free and fair, but state and local elections, as well as earlier presidential polls, have been marred by violence and fraud allegations.

Compared to that vote, international interest in Nigeria’s election has been muted as the US administration focuses on domestic issues and Britain wrestles with its impending exit from the EU. A British colony until 1960, Nigeria is an ally of both countries which are home to large Nigerian diaspora communities.

(With agency inputs)