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15 arrested in Zanzibar after acid attack on church official

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Zanzibar Police Commissioner Mussa Ali Mussa addresses journalists yesterday as he displays containers filled with acid that were seized from some of the 15 suspects arrested in connection with last Friday’s acid attack on a priest. PHOTO | MWINYI SADALLAH 

By Mwinyi Sadallah

Posted  Tuesday, September 17  2013 at  00:00

In Summary

  • The suspects are still being interrogated and the police have asked all those who have more information to implicate the suspects to come forward.
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Zanzibar. Police in Zanzibar are holding 15 people in connection with acid attack on a Catholic Church priest last Friday.

Zanzibar Police Commissioner Mussa Ali Mussa told reporters yesterday that some of the suspects were found with diluted and undiluted acid.

“We are also investigating claims that most of the suspects have links with the terrorist group, Al-Shabaab, and whether they have actually taken part in combat missions with the terrorist group in some countries,” Mr Mussa said.

The crackdown that facilitated the capture of the suspects started in earnest on Saturday, a day after Fr Anselm Mwang’amba, a priest at Catholic Church Machui parish, was splashed with the corrosive chemical.

Fr Mwang’amba, who is now admitted to the Muhimbili National Hospital, was attacked as he left an Internet café on Friday afternoon in Zanzibar.

The suspects are still being interrogated and the police have asked all those who have more information to implicate the suspects to come forward.

The Saturday crackdown was carried out in cooperation from officials from the Government Chemist and it targeted illegal importers, distributors and retailers of corrosive chemicals.

“We seized 29 litres packed in one-litre containers in various areas in Zanzibar. The crackdown is ongoing,” Mr Mussa noted.He could not say where exactly in Zanzibar the suspected Al-Shabaab members were caught but said they were caught, “while preparing to take part in wars outside Tanzania.” He defended Zanzibar police against allegations that they are lax in their investigations on acid attacks since no case has been taken to court out of five incidents.

“Our duty is to arrest, investigate and present evidence to the Director of Public Prosecution. So far we are fulfilling our responsibilities,” Mr Mussa noted. However, he disclosed that the case on acid attack on Rashid Ali Juma,

Zanzibar Municipality director has been closed due to lack of evidence. No one was arrested in connection to the attack that took place early this year.

Investigation on another acid attack case, whose victim was Sheikh Fadhil Soraga, is complete and the file has been sent to the DPP. The suspects arrested in the case are out on bail. Sheikh Saroga, who is the secretary of the Zanzibar Mufti, was attacked in November last year.

Investigations on the acid attack on two British girls is in final stages, according to Mr Mussa. A local government official Mohamed Said Kidevu was attacked this year, with thugs throwing corrosive liquid on him, but no one has so far been arrested in connection with the incident.