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Two people are known to have died in Thursday’s rioting in the town of Gile in the central Mozambican province of Zambezia, and, according to the district police commander, both were minors struck by stray bullets in the clashes between police and rioters.
The disturbances originate in the rumour that vampires (known as “chupa-sangues” – literally “bloodsuckers”) are on the loose in Zambezia, taking blood from their victims at dead of night. The rumour became lethal when government officials were accused of complicity with the vampires.
According to the spokesperson for the general command of the Mozambican police, Inacio Dina, speaking to reporters on Thursday, the rioters “marched on the homes of the local community leaders, burnt down their houses and the house of the director of the district prison, and vandalised police premises, Once again, the police were obliged to restore order”.
The police escorted the Gile district administrator out of the town, and he has taken refuge in the neighbouring district of Alto Molocue.
Over the years, there have been recurrent rumours of vampirism in parts of Mozambique. This time the rumour seems to have begun in the Zambezia provincial capital, and then spread to the districts of Milange, Derre, Maganja da Costa, Morrumbala and Gile.
Of course, there is not the slightest evidence of vampires at large. Not a single person in Zambezia has come forward to say that they have been bitten by vampires. The police suspect that the rumour has been deliberately spread to create chaos, so that criminals can go on a looting spree.
The police have now come under attack by mobs three times this month. On 1 October, an angry crowd burnt down the home of the police commander in Mandimba district, in the northernmost province of Niassa, after the police were accused of involvement in the murder of an informal currency trader the previous day.
On 5 October, a group of islamist extremists attacked police premises in Mocimboa da Praia district, in Cabo Delgado province. A further attack took place a week later on the road between Mocimboa da Praia and Palma. At least three policemen and 17 members of the attacking group are known to have died in these clashes.
Now come the riots in Gile, in which the police have faced mobs whipped into fury by absurd claims about vampires.
Police patience has now snapped, and Dina warned that the police will repress any future attempts to stage violent, illegal demonstrations. “Against these bandits, against these madmen, against these vandals, against those who spread disinformation, there will be zero tolerance, and we will continue to repress and combat them”, he declared, promising that the police will use “violence against violence”.
He added that agents of the State Intelligence and Security Service (SISE) are on the ground in the troubled areas, not only investigating the incidents that have already happened, but also to nip in the bud any future attempt to stir up social instability.Source: AIM
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