Suspected Islamic Extremists Throw Acid on Priest in Zanzibar, Tanzania

Suspected Islamic Extremists Throw Acid on Priest in Zanzibar, Tanzania

NAIROBI, Kenya (Morning Star News) – Asserting that Tanzania’s Zanzibar Island is not a place for Christians, suspected Muslim extremists threw acid on a 60-year-old Catholic priest on Friday (Sept. 13), sources said.

The Rev. Joseph Anselmo Mwangamba stepped outside an Internet café on the outskirts of Zanzibar City, capital of the semi-autonomous island in the Indian Ocean about 25 kilometers (16 miles) off the coast of Tanzania, when the assailants threw acid on his face and chest, a café worker said.

“Finish him,” one of the assailants said, café worker Mariamu Juma told Morning Star News. “Zanzibar is only for Muslims – not for Christians.”

As the criminals fled, Juma poured water on his burns and rushed him to Mnazi Moja Hospital. In critical condition, the priest was transferred to the mainland’s Muhimbili National Hospital in Dar-es Salaam. His condition is now said to be stable, according to pastor Lucian Mgaywa of the Church of God, Zanzibar.

Mwangamba visited the Internet café almost daily, Mgaywa said.

An intensive search turned up 29 liters of acid from suspected members of Al Shabaab, an Islamic extremist rebel group fighting the government in Somalia, and 15 people have been arrested, according to police. It was not clear if the suspects were detained in relation only to the attack on Mwangamba or also for previous attacks.

Last month, two men on a motorbike threw acid on two British 18-year-old women in Zanzibar.

Suspected Islamic extremists on Feb. 17 shot and killed the Rev. Evaristus Mushi, a 56-year-old Roman Catholic priest, in the Mtoni area outside Zanzibar City (see Morning Star News, Feb. 20). The murder came nearly two months after the Christmas Day 2012 shooting of another Catholic priest, the Rev. Ambrose Mkenda, that seriously injured him.

While Tanzania’s population is 34.2 percent Muslim and 54 percent Christian, according to Operation World, the Zanzibar archipelago is more than 97 percent Muslim.

c. 2013 Morning Star News. Used with permission.

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Publication date: September 18, 2013