Zambians Loot Lusaka Foreign-Owned Shops Over Ritual Murders

  • Body parts missing from at least six people killed since March
  • Police say residents suspect foreigners in ritual killings

Zambians looted foreign-owned shops in low-income areas around the nation’s capital, Lusaka, over suspicions of links to recent ritual murders, the government said.

“Today has been a very sad day for our country,” Home Affairs Minister Davies Mwila said in comments broadcast on state television late Monday. “It has been a day when some criminal elements in Lusaka with criminal intent took advantage of the pain and grief we have all felt over the suspected ritual killings that have rocked the city.”

At least six people have been found dead in the west of Lusaka since last month with body parts including hearts, genitals and ears removed. Police arrested four people over the killings during the weekend, President Edgar Lungu said Sunday.

Monday’s looting started in an area called Zingalume in the west of the capital and spread to surrounding neighborhoods. Police in riot gear were called in to disperse crowds of more than 100 people, according to footage shown on state-owned ZNBC TV. The looters were targeting shops owned by Rwandan nationals, the state-owned Zambia Daily Mail reported, without saying where it got the information. Foreigners are congregating at police stations seeking protection, according to reports on social media.

Police spokeswoman Charity Munganga-Chanda said she will give an update later on Tuesday.

“These criminal elements sparked attacks on shops owned by foreigners and Zambian nationals operating in the high density residential areas in the west and north of the city of Lusaka,” Mwila said.

Residents in Zingalume burned down a community police station last month in a protest over the murders. Police are “working around the clock” to end the killings, Mwila said. Some looters have been arrested, he said.

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