A 60-year-old Catholic priest of Machui parish in Zanzibar was injured by as yet unknown parties who tossed acid him as he left an internet cafe. He was taken for emergency treatment at the Mnazi |Mmoja hospital. Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous island region of Tanzania, which has a Muslim majority. According to a police spokesman, Fr. Joseph Mwang'anda, a Tanzanian native, suffered burns on his face, torso, hands and thighs after having his clothing soaked with acid.
The priest rushed to a police station to report the crime, but questioning was delayed so that he could obtain necessary medical treatment. According to local reports, the priest is a regular at the internet cafe where the attack took place and had not received any threats heretofore. Police say that the priest is not gravely injured and expected to improve.
No on has yet been detained for questioning and police admit they do not have any suspects. No arrests have been made following the September 13 incident, which happened at approximately 4 p.m. local time.
The attack on Fr Mwang'anda came just one month after a similar attack on two teenaged British girls who had come from the UK to teach English at a local Anglican parish.
Tensions are high in Muslim-majority Zanzibar following the recent attacks. In November 2012, moderate Muslim leader Sheikh Fadhil Suleiman Saorga was the victim of an acid attack. A Catholic priest, Fr Ambrose Mkenda, was shot to death on Christmas Day, 2012. Then in February of this year Fr Evaristus Mushi, a Catholic priest, was shot to death.
Machui parish is located at Cheju area in the municipality, with the attack on the priest coming a month or so following a similar attack on two British young women teaching English at an Anglican Church school.
Another victim of acid attack was Sheikh Fadhil Suleiman Saroga, a close aid of the Zanzibar chief sheikh, while two other priests were attacked by firearms, Padre Ambrose Mkenda shot on Christmas Day and in February, Padre Evaristus Mushi was shot dead by assailants. Political figures who have suffered acid attacks include Zanzibar municipal director Rashid Ali Juma, and Mohamed Kidevu - a municipal government official for the Chumbuni district.
Fr. Mwang’anda operates a Catholic center for young people in the Cheju district of Zanzibar.
Other terrorist incidents in Zanzibar include a bomb attack during the consecration of a Catholic church in Arusha, where Bishop Josephat Lebulu was officiating. Also present was the papal nuncio, the Vatican's diplomatic representative to Tanzania.
In recent years, the situation in Zanzibar has been roiled by a Muslim separatist group known as Uamasho (Awakening), which seeks the islands' total independence from Tanzania.
Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.