LUSAKA, Zambia (AP) — Police in Zambia arrested over 250 people for allegedly attacking Rwandan nationals and looting their shops in the capital in violence that police said Wednesday killed two Zambians.
Some Lusaka residents had been protesting a spate of ritual killings blamed on Rwandans. The ritual killings started in March with several bodies, mainly of men, found with parts missing. Police say about 11 people have been arrested in connection with ritual murders of at least seven people.
At least two Zambians have died since Monday when the riots started, police spokeswoman Charity Munganga Chanda said.
Abel Buhungu, Rwanda's High Commission in Zambia says 20 people have sought refuge at the embassy since the rioting began.
The riots started on Monday in densely populated areas with resident looting shops owned by Rwandese nationals. About 62 shops were destroyed. Youths stood by a car that had been overturned and burned. The suspicion that Rwandans were behind ritual killings was started by a rumor human body parts were found in a refrigerator in one of the hops. However, police dismissed this as unfounded.
Most of the Rwandans were refugees following the 1994 genocide. Most of the 6,500 Rwandans in Zambia trade goods in shops and are often better off than Zambians, creating friction.
Rwanda charge d'affaires Abel Buhungu commended police for their swift action.