-ZAMBIA XENOPHOBIC VIOLENCE: TWO BURNED ALIVE IN LUSAKA
-Six killed, over 250 arrested.
-Unemployment is suspected to be the cause of the recent violent
-Police have advised people to disregard rumors of ritual killings
ZAMBIA XENOPHOBIC VIOLENCE: TWO BURNED ALIVE IN LUSAKA
Two Zambians were reportedly burned to death on Monday as xenophobic violence heightens in Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, police said in a statement. The riots started after rumors that Rwandans were behind recent ritual killings in the city. According to AFP, the Zambians were burned with firewood and vehicle tires.
Following the looting of over 6o Rwandan-owned shops in just two days of violence, more than 250 people have been arrested. Six people have been murdered since March and their body parts removed.
Rumors making the round have it that the body parts would be used as charms to ensure success in business. However, Police spokeswoman Charity Munganga urged Zambians not to believe “false rumors”.
“No baby or human body parts were found in any fridge belonging to any foreign national. These statements are coming from people with criminal minds to create alarm among the members of the public and justify their criminality,” she said in a statement.
She warned that it was an offence to spread rumors that caused alarm and the police would not hesitate to arrest those doing so “regardless of the medium they are using”.
“We are appealing to the members of the public not to believe any statement they see on social media which is not confirmed by the police.”
According to a report by BBC, Rwandans are the largest group of immigrants in Zambia, owning shops in the densely populated areas which have been affected by the riots.
In the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, two million ethnic Hutus fled as the Tutsi-led Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) rebels captured the capital Kigali in July, ending 100 days of ethnic killings. Some 800,000 people had been slaughtered by Hutu extremists.
Many of those who left settled in camps set up across the border in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
But others continued walking – some across the vast country into Angola, before settling in neighboring Zambia, in the Meheba refugee camp in north-west of the country where many stayed for nearly two decades.
In July 2013, the UN announced it was safe for Rwandans across Africa to go back home, and revoked their refugee status, encouraging voluntary repatriation.
Despite diplomatic efforts and assurances, about 4,000 Rwandans in Zambia do not want to go back – and are trying to get Zambian citizenship.
In the last five years, they have been joined by several hundred Rwandans who say Zambia is more conducive for business, as taxes are not as high as at home.
The BBC’s Meluse Kapatamoyo in Lusaka says the riots began in two poor neighborhoods on Monday and spread to other areas on Tuesday. Young men ransacked shops, possibly reflecting growing frustration at the high levels of unemployment and the rising cost of living, our correspondent says.
Riot police had to be deployed and many Rwandans fled to police stations to take shelter. The unrest is said to have been fueled by high unemployment among youth
More than 250 people have since been arrested to curb the violence Ms Munganga said police officers were still deployed to all areas. No rioting has been reported on Wednesday.
The home affairs minister said on Tuesday, after visiting areas hit by the riots, that 11 people had been detained on suspicion of being involved in ritual killings.