Islamic separatist group Uamsho continues to riot on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar. This follows riots that lead to the destruction of several churches this past week. These riots show further evidence of the rise of extremist on
10/20/2012 Tanzania (Reuters) – Supporters of a separatist Islamist group in Zanzibar looted shops and fought with police on Thursday after their leader disappeared, witnesses said, the third outbreak of violence this year on the Indian Ocean archipelago.
Supporters of Sheikh Farid Hadi, a leader of the Islamic Uamsho (Awakening) movement who has not been seen since Tuesday, threw stones at police and blocked roads with cut-down trees and burning tyres in island’s main town.
“Police are everywhere and firing teargas. There is nobody around town and the shops are closed. It’s a terrible situation,” Said Salleh, 40, a businessman from Zanzibar, told Reuters over the phone.
Witnesses said protesters looted shops and video footage showed a number of rioters holding machetes and hiding their faces with balaclavas.
The latest violence raised concerns of an escalation in religious tension in the predominantly Muslim island which is part of Tanzania but ruled by a semi-autonomous secular government.
Analysts said the Uamsho group has been gaining popularity following the disenchantment of supporters of Zanzibar’s main opposition Civic United Front (CUF) party after its decision to form a government of national unity with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party.