Rioters burn churches in Zanzibar
Dar es Salam (Alshahid)-Hundreds of supporters of a separatist Islamist group set fire to two churches and clashed with police during protests in Zanzibar over the weekend against the arrest of senior members of the movement, police and witnesses said.
A group of youths believed to be followers of an Islamic propagation group in Zanzibar — Uamsho — currently campaigning against the Union with mainland Tanzania, had attempted to hold a rally at the Mwembe-Madema Police station as a gesture of protest against the arrest of one of their leaders.
Zanzibar Commissioner of Police, Mussa Ali told journalists yesterday that they had arrested seven members of the group and two of their leaders. He said they are still hunting for the group’s top leaders namely Sheikh Farid Hadi and his Assistant Amir Azzan Khalid.
“We are searching the group’s top leaders and all those involved in riots so that they are taken to court”, he noted.
Bishop Dickson Kaganga of Tanzania Assemblies of God told reporters at the ill-fated Church that a group of youths armed with stones and sticks forcefully entered the church at around 10.30pm on Saturday.
“They set fire on some plastic chairs, a car, music instruments and other items. They also pulled down the fence,” he said.
“Fortunately the guards at the church escaped unhurt. No one got injured but property worth more than 100 million Tsh. was destroyed,” Bishop Kaganga said.
However, in a press statement released later, Uamsho refuted claims that it was responsible for the destruction of the two churches.
“Islam is a religion of peace and never shall we send our people to destroy churches,” the group said.