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Arrests after Tanzania albino attack

17 February 2013, 08:01

Arusha - Tanzanian police have arrested five men in connection to a brutal attack on an albino woman whose arm was hacked off earlier this week, presumably to sell the limb for use in witchcraft.

Police said they seized the men after discovering the decomposing limb in a field on Friday, and after intercepting a telephone call between two men in which they allegedly discussed its sale.

"We have every reason to believe that they are the leaders," local police chief Peter Ngusa said on Saturday.

In Tanzania, albinos are killed and dismembered due to a widespread belief that charms made from their body parts bring good fortune and prosperity.

The victim, mother of four Maria Chambanenge, 39, from Tanzania's southwestern Sumbawanga district, remains in hospital after the savage assault.

Albinism is a genetic condition characterised by a deficiency of melanin pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes which protects from the sun's ultraviolet rays.

People suffering from the condition are discriminated against and persecuted in many African countries.

Last month an albino child died in Tanzania's Tabora region after attackers hacked off his arm with a machete.

Kijo Bisimba, of Tanzania's Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) said recent attacks were "alarming" and pointed to an renewed spate of assaults "after months of calm".

Such ritual killings have also occurred in neighbouring Burundi and some of the attackers are suspected to be from Tanzania, where albino body parts can fetch thousands of dollars.


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