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At least 200 people have been arrested in Tanzania as part of a nationwide crackdown on witchdoctors linked to a wave of albino attacks and murders, police have said.
Police said on Thursday that they had arrested 225 unlicensed traditional healers and soothsayers during a special operation carried out in several parts of the east African country and due to be extended to all 30 regions.
“Some of those arrested were found in possession of items like lizard skin, warthog teeth, ostrich eggs, monkey tails, bird claws, mule tails and lion skin,” police spokesperson Advera Bulimba said in a statement.
Bulimba said the police campaign would target the entire network of gangsters, traders and witchdoctors, adding that 97 of those detained had already appeared in court.
The statement also appealed to religious leaders, traditional elders, politicians and journalists “to continue the awareness campaign against superstitious beliefs that are holding back the development of our country.”
The announcement comes after President Jakaya Kikwete said the ongoing attacks against people with albinism, whose body parts are used for witchcraft, were “disgusting and a big embarrassment for the nation”.
Albinos are sometimes abducted and killed, fuelled by beliefs that their body parts will bring luck.