At least two people have been burnt alive during xenophobic attacks in Zambia's capital Lusaka. The violence, which targeted mainly Rwandan shop owners in the capital, was sparked on 18 April after foreigners were accused of being behind ritual killings.
Around 250 people have been arrested in connection with the violence and at least 60 shops, owned by Rwandan expatriates, have been looted. The Police did not disclose the identity of the two people killed and urged citizens not to believe rumours.
"The official number of people who have died from the time the looting started is two. These are the ones who were burnt to death on 18th April 2016 in Kanyama compound," spokeswoman Charity Munganga said in a statement.
Rumours have spread that foreigners used body parts as charms after at least six corpses with missing body parts – including ears, genitals and hearts – were found in the capital over the past four weeks. At least 11 people have been arrested in connection with the killings.
"The information has unfortunately been taken advantage of by criminals who have been looting shops belonging to both foreign nationals and Zambians. All those spreading false rumors that are creating anxiety or fear in members of the public are alarming the Nation and that is an offence. The Zambia Police will therefore not hesitate to arrest such people regardless of the medium they are using," the statement continued.
Rwandans are the largest group of immigrants in Zambia. Most of them have been living in the country since they fled Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.
The Rwandan government has so far not responded to a request for comments on the violence., although a Rwandan diplomat praised Zambian police for their efforts in ending the violence. "We are happy with the quick police response to the attacks apparently targeted at our nationals and their properties by the Police", Abel Buhungu, from the Rwanda's High Commission in Zambia, was quoted by the Lusaka Times newspaper as saying. "We are also satisfied that there has been increased deployment of police presence even in areas not affected yesterday."