Zambia Deploys 1,000 Police to Quell Riots Targeting Foreigners

  • Two people were burned alive amid shop lootings in the capital
  • Riots targeting mainly Rwandans are slowly being subdued

Zambia has deployed more than 1,000 police officers in the capital, Lusaka, to subdue riots targeting shops owned mainly by Rwandan nationals that left at least two people dead, police said.

“They are slowly dying down; we can’t say they’ve died out,” police spokeswoman Charity Munganga-Chanda said by phone Wednesday. “When we receive a report we move in.”

Looting started Monday in a densely populated low-income area in the west of the city of 2.5 million after crowds accused a Rwandan shop-owner of being involved in suspected ritual murders that took place nearby since last month. They quickly spread to nearby poor neighborhoods where grocery stores owned mainly by Rwandans were ransacked. By Tuesday, riots erupted in slums across the city.

The ruling Patriotic Front party said on Tuesday that as many as five people may have died in the riots. Munganga-Chanda put the death toll at two, identifying the victims as Zambians who were burned alive April 18.

Before the looting began, at least six Zambians had been found murdered in compounds around the Zingalume area in the west of the city. The bodies were missing parts including hearts, ears and genitals, leading to suspicions they were the victims of ritual killings. Home Affairs Minister Davies Mwila said police have arrested 11 people in connection with the murders.

Police detained more than 250 suspected looters as of Tuesday, Munganga-Chanda said. Shops owned by Zambians were also among the more than 60 that have been attacked.

Rwandans, many of whom are former refugees, sought protection at police stations around Lusaka, Mwila said in comments broadcast on state-owned ZNBC television Tuesday.

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