Zambia president says ‘ashamed’ by anti-migrant riots


President Edgar Lungu

President Edgar Lungu

Lusaka, April 21, 2016 (AFP) – Zambian President Edgar Lungu said Thursday he was ashamed by violence that erupted this week targeting foreign nationals, urging those affected to return to their homes. Hundreds of mainly Rwandan immigrants who own shops in the slums around the capital Lusaka fled their homes after their businesses were ransacked by mobs who accused them of ritual killings. “I am very ashamed of what has happened… but I will make sure that all these criminals are arrested,” Lungu told immigrants at a church where many have sought shelter. “It’s a shame that this has happened to Zambia which is known to be peaceful but some criminals elements want to cause confusion.”

Some locals accused foreigners of being behind murders of at least seven people whose body parts, including ears, hearts and penises, were removed allegedly for witchcraft. Police on Wednesday said two local people were burned alive during the rioting. About 200 people have been arrested. Several thousand refugees from Rwanda, which was embroiled in genocide in 1994, live in Lusaka. Deadly violence against foreign shopkeepers has often flared up in South Africa, where local people accuse them of stealing their jobs.

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