, ARUSHA, Tanzania Mar 10 – Police in Tanzania said Tuesday they have arrested seven suspects over a vicious weekend assault in which a six-year-old albino boy’s hand was hacked off with a machete.
The assault came days after Tanzania’s President Jakaya Kikwete blasted the wave of killings and attacks against albinos, whose body parts are used for witchcraft, as a “disgusting and big embarrassment for the nation”.
“We have already arrested seven suspects… investigations are continuing,” the deputy police chief in Tanzania’s southwestern Rukwa region, Leons Rwegasira, told state television.
According to police, the boy, Baraka Cosmas, was sleeping at home with his mother in the village of Kipenda in the Rukwa region when a gang of assailants stormed in late Saturday. His hand was hacked off and both the boy and his mother were being treated in hospital.
A UN expert says attacks on people with albinism have claimed at least 75 lives since 2000, and that albino body parts sell for around $600, with an entire corpse fetching $75,000.
Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition which causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. It affects one Tanzanian in 1,400, often as a result of inbreeding, experts say.