Tanzania albino murders: 'More than 200 witchdoctors' arrested

  • 12 March 2015
  • From the section Africa
Albino boys in Tanzania Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Albinism affects around one in every 1,400 Tanzanians, far higher than average

More than 200 witchdoctors and traditional healers have been arrested in Tanzania in a crackdown on the murder of albino people.

The killings have been driven by the belief - advanced by some witchdoctors - that the body parts have properties that confer wealth and good luck.

President Jakaya Kikwete has described the murder of albino people as an "evil" that has shamed Tanzania.

Nearly 80 albino Tanzanians have been killed since 2000, the UN says.

The latest victims include a one-year-old albino boy, killed in north-western Tanzania a few weeks ago.

The government banned witchdoctors in January as part of its efforts to prevent further attacks and kidnappings targeting people with albinism.

Lizard skin and warthog teeth

Last week, 32 witchdoctors were detained.

According to the Red Cross, witchdoctors are prepared to pay $75,000 (£50,000) for a complete set of albino body parts.

Tanzanian police arrested 225 unlicensed traditional healers and soothsayers across the country, the AFP news agency reports.

"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 told the agency.

Albinism is particularly prevalent in Tanzania with one in 1,400 affected, according to a 2006 BMC Public Health report. This compares with one in 20,000 in Western countries.

Some researchers believe the higher rate is a result of inbreeding.

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