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Six-year-old Albino's hand hacked off so it could be sold to witch doctors

By Mirror | March 11th 2015 at 22:01:19 GMT +0300

Tanzania:    A six-year-old whose hand was hacked off by men who broke into his home has become the latest albino in Tanzania to be attacked because their body parts are worth thousands of pounds.

Baraka Cosmas, 6, was sleeping at home with his mum in the village of Kipenda in the south-western Rukwa region when a gang of hired hitman rushed in late on Saturday.

Regional police commander Jacob Mruanda said the boy's mum Prisca Shaman was attacked by the men because she wouldn't hand over her son.

They then hacked off his hand with a machete and walked out.

Both of them had to be treated in hospital.

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Baraka is the third albino child to be attacked in the last three months in the country where albinos, and especially children, are in great danger.

This is because of the highly lucrative trade in albino body parts, fuelled by the high prices they fetch and a belief in the 'magical' properties of the skin and limbs, said to bring wealth and luck.

Eighteen-month Yohana Bahati was taken from his home a month ago and four-year-old Pendo Emmanuelle Nandi was snatched at the end of December.

Yohana's mutilated body was found a few days later but Pendo has never been seen again.

Those doing the attacking may be little more than petty criminals but the challenge for the government is to track down those ordering the killings.

The Tanzanian government has responded to the crisis by outlawing witch doctors.

It was announced 32 had been arrested in the Geita region, the same area where Yohana was killed last month.

But so far, although witch doctors and attackers have been arrested, no one has been stopped for buying albino body parts.

Jonathan Beale, managing director of Standing Voice , a charity working to protect Tanzania's albinos, says until these people are rooted out, government efforts to curb the attacks and killings are likely to have little impact.

"This most recent tragic attack serves to remind us that current responses from the government, police force and justice system are not sufficient and do not target the heart of this crisis,' he told MailOnline.

"Sadly what we see from the government are measures which react to this crisis in a surface level fashion.

"We call for a criminal investigation beyond the hired assailant or witchdoctor, and the gathering of thorough evidence on those involved at higher levels of this absurd trade.'

"The witch doctors were arrested in possession of different items, including potions and oil from an unknown source,' police cheif Joseph Konyo told reporters - but didn't say whether they had been charged.

But Mr Beale warned targeting all witchdoctors may mean attention is diverted from the real killers.

He said: "We do hope that the government declaration to ban all witchdoctors in the country does not distort the judicial task at hand by indicting individuals practising traditional rituals who may be entirely innocent, yet by default are to be considered killers.

"Even more dangerous is the idea that this could create a smokescreen of impunity for those who actually fuel the trade by approaching witchdoctors with their demands."

"What is required are intelligent strategies which target the source of these crimes," he said.

"The sad reality is that, in one of the poorest countries in the world, for years to come there will always be poor individuals who will commit these atrocities for money.

"As much as we commend the government on its efforts, until the law enforcing authorities look beyond the obvious we are putting plasters on a wound here."

The latest attack comes as the UN warns attacks on albinos are not just happening in Tanzania but across east Africa in Malawi and Burundi.

"These attacks are often stunningly vicious, with children in particular being targeted," the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, said in a statement.

"Many people with albinism are living in abject fear."

In a large number of cases those accused of attacking albino children are relations.

An uncle is among three men facing charges in Malawi for the kidnapping of an 11-year-old Malawian girl in January.

He said he had been promised £4,348 ($6,500) for her body according to the UN.

Witch doctors will pay as much as £50,170 ($75,000) for a full set of albino body parts, according to a Red Cross report, using them to make spells believed to bring good luck, love and wealth.

Albino Boy Tanzania
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