Arrests for Zambia chemical attacks


Police in Zambia arrested 16 people suspected of being behind a spate of attacks where people were sprayed with poisonous substances and some died, police said.

President Edgar Lungu last week ordered soldiers to join police patrolling the streets after the attacks, which sparked public outrage.

The attacks began in December and were initially confined to the mineral-rich Copperbelt but spread to the capital Lusaka. Police are still trying to pinpoint the exact number of victims.

Britain and the US issued travel alerts following the attacks.

“We arrested 16 people. Among them one is actually purported to be funding these operations,” deputy police spokesman Rae Hamoonga told Reuters.

Police would deal sternly with people who resorted to mob justice and attacked suspects, he said.

“The situation is slowly getting back to normal.”

Hakainde Hichilema, leader of the main opposition the United Party for National Development (UPND), said government should invite Britain’s Scotland Yard to investigate.

Chanda Chongo, a 37-year-old housewife, said people in her neighbourhood in Lusaka were spending sleepless nights, fearing they would be attacked.

“Government needs to do more. My neighbour’s daughter was choked last night after her room was sprayed with chemicals,” Chongo said.

Another Lusaka resident, Simon Sense, said several neighbours were outraged. “The deployment of soldiers and police is good,” Sense said.