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Tanzania police arrested for shooting people who rioted against witchcraft killings

Police shot at a crowd in Songea that was protesting the recent murder of six women.

Nigeria witch children 1Enlarge
Many children are abandoned, tortured and killed because they are said to be witches. Here is an abandoned, maltreated and wounded boy living as a child-witch on the streets of the small fishing village Ibaka in the Niger Delta. (Toby Binder/GlobalPost)

Police officers in Tanzania shot at local protestors to prevent the angry crowd from destroying property. Two protestors died as a result, and the four police officers involved in the shooting have been arrested, BBC News reported today. The original protests were sparked by another series of killings, dubbed witchcraft murders.

More from GlobalPost: Nigeria's "witch children" find refuge at center

Witchcraft doctors in Tanzania claim that the body parts of people with albinism have special healing powers. As a result, people in Tanzania with albinism are commonly hunted. Witch doctors then sell albino skin and other body parts, The New York Times reported.

In May of last year, Reuters reported that albino girls in Tanzania have also been targeted by rapists based on the belief that intercourse with an albino woman would cure AIDS. 

Thousands of people took to the streets of Songea Wednesday to protest the recent murder of six women, the BBC said. Though the victims were not albino, the rioters believe that the deceased women were also victims of the witchcraft trade. The rioters attacked police stations and government offices, based on their feelings that police had done little to prevent witchcraft killings.

Ruvuma police, however, argue that the recent murders were unrelated to the black magic trade. They maintain that there is no evidence that the killers cut off body parts from the corpses for witchcraft use.

The Ruvuma regional police commander told the BBC that police officers "were forced to use live bullets" on the angry crowd. Police opened fire to stop the crowd "from smashing public property," the BBC said

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/africa/120223/tanzanian-police-arrested-shooting-people-who-rioted-against-witch-craft