Zanzibar — AS the hunt for killers of Roman Catholic priest Evaristus Mushi has started in full force, a team of foreign criminal investigation experts is expected to arrive in Zanzibar soon to reinforce the operation.
The priest who was killed by unknown people here last Sunday, is expected to be buried tomorrow in Kitope village, North Unguja. Isles Minister of State Mohamed Aboud, told reporters that the foreign intelligence officers would arrive in Zanzibar anytime.
He, however, did not mention their country of origin. Minister Aboud appealed on Zanzibaris to maintain peace and stability while efforts were being made to capture the murderers. The Minister downplayed reports that illegal possession of firearms in Zanzibar was becoming high, saying:
"We admit that some criminals possess arms but they are just a small segment of the population." On the other hand, the Commissioner of Police in Zanzibar, Mr Mussa Ali Mussa, said that many people have so far been questioned in connection with the killing.
"We are holding a number of people for questioning, we ask people to help us by providing reliable information. Since the process is going on, we cannot mention the number of the suspects arrested so far," he added. Meanwhile, Bishop Augustino Shayo of the Zanzibar Roman Catholic Diocese, expressed disappointment over the way the police react on religious related incidents.
"We met President Shein and expressed our disappointment over the way the police handle such matters. They are good at making promises to hunt for criminals and make sure that peace prevails, but are weak in implementation," he lamented.
He said the president promised that security officers would keep a close eye on all church areas, and urged people to help by reporting any suspicious movement. In a separate meeting with First Vice-President Seif Sharif Hamad, Bishop Shayo raised concern over increased illegal possession of firearms.
"It is high time now the government investigated how guns reached the hands of criminals. Are they getting them from dishonest security officers or are buying them from smugglers?", the bishop asked. The cleric also asked the government to find out if the criminals are linked to any terrorist network outside Zanzibar.
He said speculations that some Zanzibar youths have links with terrorist groups in Somalia and Sudan should not be ignored because both Muslim and Christian leaders are being targeted. "I have been in Zanzibar for about 20 years, and for all along we have been living peacefully.
Why now? If it is the issue of union between Tanganyika and Zanzibar, religious leaders are not concerned," he said in a meeting with reporters at St Joseph Cathedral, at Shangani area in the Stone Town. On his part, the Zanzibar first vice-president, also condemned the killing of Father Mushi saying the incident has tarnished the image of Zanzibar as a peaceful place with good people.
Father Mushi was shot dead early morning on Sunday near Beit-al-Ras/Mtoni area where he was heading to lead a mass. In another development, the Association of Zanzibar Muslim Imams has called on the police to spare no efforts in hunting the culprits and bring them to justice.
"We ask the government to ensure thorough investigation and arrest the culprits who are trying to create hatred between Christians and Muslims. "We want the criminals to face the wrath of the law. Those involved should be treated as criminals because Islam does not teach killing others..." reads the statement signed by the association's Secretary, Sheikh Muhiddin Zubeir Muhiddin.