An elderly Catholic priest has been the victim of an acid attack in Zanzibar.
Amselmo Mwangamba was attacked on Friday (September 13) and is now in hospital receiving treatment to burns on his face, chest and arms.
This is the fifth acid attack on the island since November, according to the BBC. Last month, two young British women were subjected to an attack that dominated UK headlines for several days.
Fr. Mwangamba was attacked as he left an internet café in Stone Town, an historic city on the island popular with tourists. Stone Town was also the scene of the attack on the British women.
The motive for this latest attack is unknown, although tensions are high between the island’s majority Muslim and Christian inhabitants.
The president of Zanzibar, Ali Mohammed Shein, visited the priest at hospital and told media the attack had “brought chaos and confusion to the country and outside”. He urged islanders to mobilise to prevent further attacks.
“We cannot continue living in fear and have people being targeted by thugs using acid,” he said.
Zanzibar’s police commissioner, Mussa Ali Mussa, said some suspects had been questioned but no arrests had yet been made. Zanzibari officials called the attack on the women a “shame on the people of Zanzibar”, and offered a reward equivalent to $6,000 for information leading to arrests.
Tanzania is in the middle of a constitutional review process. The new proposed constitution is to be tested in a referendum in April 2014. Christians are the majority in Tanzania, but Zanzibar has long expressed ambitions for full autonomy from mainland Tanzania and the declaration of an Islamic State.
Tanzania is No. 24 on the 2013 World Watch List, an annual ranking of the 50 countries where life as a Christian is most difficult. “On the Zanzibar archipelago, Islamic militants bent on wiping out all Christians from the islands have burnt and looted churches and threatened Christians with death,” reports the List.