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Feb-21-2013 14:30printcomments

One Church Leader Beheaded; Another Shot Dead in Tanzania

Zanzibar is overwhelmingly Muslim; Christians comprise around three per cent of the population.

Fr. Evarist Mushi and Pastor Mathayo
Fr. Evarist Mushi and Pastor Mathayo

(DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania) - Two church leaders were killed in separate violent attacks in Tanzania last week. Pastor Mathayo Kachila (45) was beheaded in the town of Buseresere on the morning of Monday 11 February by a group of youths believed to be Muslims.

Then on Sunday morning (17 February), Evarist Mushi was shot dead outside his church on the semi-autonomous island of Zanzibar.

Tensions had been building in Buseresere, Geita region, where Muslim leaders have been demanding the closure of Christian-owned butcheries.

Violence broke out at around 8am on Monday when a group of youths arrived at a butcher’s armed with machetes and sticks. They assaulted several Christians. Pastor Mathayo was caught up in the violence and beheaded at the scene. Five people, some of whom were in a critical condition, were taken to hospital.

The assailants pulled down and destroyed a sign at the butchers that said, “Jesus is Lord”. They also allegedly contaminated over 200kg of meat with a suspected harmful substance.

Several shops and motorcycles were set ablaze.

Two suspects have been arrested, and the Minister for Home Affairs has said that the government will leave no stone unturned in ensuring that all those involved in fuelling religious conflicts in the area are brought to justice.

Church Leader Shooting

Evarist was arriving at his church in the Mtoni area of Urban West region in Zanzibar to take the Sunday morning service when he was blocked at the entrance by two young men. The church leader was shot twice in the head and pronounced dead on arrival at Mnazi Mmoja Hospital.

Three people were later arrested in connection with the murder.

It follows the shooting on Christmas Day of another church leader, the Rev. Ambrose Mkenda, on the island. He was seriously wounded. UAMSHO (Association for Islamic Mobilisation and Propagation), an Islamist separatist group that wants Zanzibar to become independent from mainland Tanzania, is suspected of carrying out that attack.

The group distributed leaflets threatening church leaders in Zanzibar in October following attacks on several churches.

Said Mwema, the Inspector General of Police, said, “We will crack down on people behind these recurring attacks against religious leaders and houses of worship.”

Zanzibar is overwhelmingly Muslim; Christians comprise around three per cent of the population.

- barnabas team

Source: Catholic-Christian Secular Forum

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