Tanzania police officer killed in protest over wildlife protection area


Andrew Aitchison / In photos via Getty Images

  • A Tanzanian police officer was killed in clashes with Masai herdsmen.
  • Arrows fired by a group wanted to block the placement of beacons, killing the officer.
  • It happened when the shepherds were protesting against the closure of land to create a protected area.

A police officer was killed in northeastern Tanzania during a clash with Masai shepherds protesting against the closure of land to create a wildlife sanctuary, an official said on Saturday.

Activists said some protesters were injured by live rounds or went missing.

The policeman’s death on Friday late in the Loliondo district near the Serengeti National Park comes after years of tensions between the government and the local Masai community.

The Masai say the government is trying to expel them from part of their historic land to organize safaris and private hunting expeditions for tourists.

But the government has denied these allegations, claiming it wants to “protect” 1,500 square kilometers of the region from human activity. This means that Masai shepherds now only have access to 2,500 square kilometers for grazing of 4,000.

Arusha Regional Commissioner John Mongela said in a video statement that the policeman was killed after teams came up on Friday to plant posts in the ground to separate the protected area.

He said:

One policeman was killed by arrows fired by a group of people who wanted to block the placement of beacons.

Footage posted on social media showed several dozen Masai protesting against the new border, but also people fleeing security forces when gunshots rang.

“More than 40 people (were) seriously injured with live bullets,” lawyer and human rights defender Joseph Moses Oleshangay wrote on Twitter.

“One more than 80-year-old man who was injured yesterday is missing. Not in any hospital.”

Onesmo Olengurumwa, director of the East African Human Rights Institute, said early on Twitter early Saturday that eight community leaders were missing, and called on President Samia Suluhu Hassan to intervene.

Mongela said “hospitals have so far not injured people”, and images were “circulated by people with bad intentions”.

Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa in parliament said the authorities did not intend to move anyone.

“No eviction is planned in Loliondo at all,” he said.

In 2009, thousands of Masai families were expelled from Loliondo so that an Emirate company called the Ortelo Business Corporation could organize hunting expeditions for wealthy tourists.

The government canceled that deal in 2017, following allegations of corruption.

Loliondo is located not far from the Serengeti National Park and the volcanic crater of Ngorongoro, both of which attract hundreds of thousands of tourists annually.

The president said last year that Ngorongoro “got lost” after the number of people living in the World Heritage Site exploded, a threat to wildlife.

The government has offered to relocate native residents of the crater to another neighborhood on a voluntary basis.

Tanzania police officer killed in protest over wildlife protection area

Source link Tanzania police officer killed in protest over wildlife protection area

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