POLICE in Zanzibar have launched a manhunt for people who killed their colleague on Thursday following two days of unrest here.

The chaos erupted after a Muslim cleric, Sheikh Farid Hadi Ahmed, went missing. “We are hunting for the culprits who killed Corporal Said Abdulrahman of the Field Force Unit (FFU).

At the same time we are looking for the missing Farid,” said the Zanzibar Police Commissioner, Mr Mussa Ali Mussa, here on Thursday. He said that the late Abdulrahman was riding a motorbike (Vespa) from his duty station at Stone Town, heading for his home in Bububu when he got attacked.

“But just before he reached home he met a roadblock manned by youths who swiftly ambushed him with machetes and other crude weapons killing him instantly. The deceased’s head was almost chopped off. His fingers were cut off.” Police blame the youths, most of whom are followers of the ‘Muslim Mobilization and Propagation Group (UAMSHO) over the killing of the policeman.

The incident follows a spate of lawlessness in many parts of Unguja Islands, which have spread to nearby villages. The Urban West Acting Regional Police Commander (RPC), Mr Said Juma, informed the ‘Daily News’ that four more police officers were injured when they attempted to put down the protest in Zanzibar yesterday. “Very young youths between the ages of 10 and 17 are involved in the unrest.

They place rocks, cut down trees and set tyres on fire to block roads. They escape and hide in narrow streets when riot police approach,” said the RPC. He added that the operation involving the Zanzibar special units had been extended to the suburbs.

Until Thursday the police and the Minister of State (Responsible for Police Work), Mr Mohammed Aboud Mohammed denied knowing the whereabouts of Farid. They appealed to people with reliable information to come forward and help with the police search. He went missing on Tuesday night at Mazizini area. The police commissioner said that the unrest has paralyzed activities in the town centre, including schools.

He said several cars (both government and private) were damaged, roads got littered with burning tyres and at least two Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) leisure centres (Maskani) and one bar were torched. In a separate press conference, legislators from CCM condemned the unrest in Zanzibar demanding the Inspectors General of Police (IGP), Mr Said Mwema and the police Commissioner in the islands, Mr Mussa, to resign.

“The on-going unrest in Zanzibar is unacceptable. The government has not done enough and the police have proved weak in responding to the riots. We ask the IGP and the Zanzibar commissioner to step down,” CCM members said in a joint statement read by Mr Hamza Hassan Juma (CCM – Kwamtipura). A group of about 20 CCM legislators’ backbenchers decided to boycott the morning session of the on-going House of Representatives yesterday to protest the unrest and also press Dr Ali Mohamed Shein’s government to improve security.

“The government and the police have shown weaknesses. We are witnessing maximum violation of human rights including harassments to children by thugs who terrorize them without fear,” Hamza said. CCM have also reiterated their call to the Ministry of Constitution and Legal Affairs to delete from the list of NGOs UAMSHO, saying it has lost its qualification of being a religious association.

In another development, the Civic United Front (CUF) has appealed for calm among its members and called for the government to expedite the manhunt for perpetrators of the violence and tracing the missing Ahmed. A statement released by the party’s Acting Deputy Secretary General (Zanzibar) Mr Salim Biman here on Thursday, condemned the killing of the policeman and noted that the violence was uncalled for as it only succeeded in tarnishing the good image of Zanzibar.