Thursday, 4 April 2013

Zambia shuts border after riots hit town

Wednesday, 03 April 2013 22:59

By Michael Chawe and Brandy Nelson
The Citizen Correspondents

Lusaka/Mbeya. Zambia yesterday closed its border with Tanzania after clashes between two groups of people caused by misunderstandings on slaughtering rituals erupted on the Tanzanian side of the border town of Tunduma.
The clashes erupted after a crowd gathered to demonstrate in opposing the idea that it was Muslims alone who were supposed to slaughter the animals.
A group of people that the police said were hooligans demanding that Christians should also be allowed to slaughter the animals, proceeded to Mwaka area in Tunduma where they destroyed a mosque that was under construction.
Two people, including a police officer, were seriously injured and 40 others arrested.
Police in Mbeya Region have ordered the Tunduma Ward councillor, Mr Frank Mwakajoka, and pastor Gidion Mwamafupa of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT), to surrender themselves to the Police for allegedly fuelling the violence.
The Mbeya regional police commander, Mr Diwani Athuman, said the region has experienced tension for the past three days and authorities were holding talks with the two sides.
“The government is already talking to the two sides on the matter, but as you can see this is what has happened,” he said.
On Tuesday, meat traders in the town had to lay down their tools following security concerns. One of them, who preferred anonymity, said the decision was reached because the dealers felt that their property was at risk.
Eyewitnesses revealed that on Easter morning (March 31) a total of 40 cows were slaughtered.
However, it is said that only three of them were slaughtered by Muslims and 37 were slaughtered by Christians.
The violence which erupted at around 10.30 am led to the closure of the border between Tanzania and Zambia. In addition, all social and economic activities were forced to stop for some hours.

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