Roman Catholic priest Father Evaristi Mushi was shot dead in Zanzibar yesterday morning by people who are yet to be identified.
A press statement issued by the Minister of State in the Vice President’s Office, Mohamed Abood said reverend Mushi of St Joseph Parish in Shangani, Unguja was killed at Beit-eL-Ras area close to the Catholic Church at Mtoni area in Zanzibar Urban West.
Following the incident, the minister said the government has directed police to conduct thorough investigation, hunt and arrest the killers, calling on the people to be patient as the probe is carried out.
The government has sent condolences to the family of the deceased and Roman Catholic followers, asking them to be tolerant during this difficult moment, he said.
Meanwhile, police in Zanzibar are reported to be holding three people in connection with the killing of the priest Inspector General of Police Said Mwema said yesterday.
He said the suspects were arrested immediately after the police were informed about the killing of the priest.
IGP was briefing journalists on the formation of a team of top police officers to probe the killing.
He said he has dispatched the team to Zanzibar to work together with regional police officers to, among other things, investigate recurring incidents of attacks on religious leaders in the Isles.
IGP Mwema said the team comprises experts in the fields of investigation and operations and he believe the culprits will be brought to book as soon as possible.
The probe team includes the Deputy Commissioners of Police Samson Kasara (who is leading the team), Peter Kivuyo (investigation team Head of Intelligence) and Senior Commissioner of Police Simon Siro, who will head the operations.
On the special team he has formed, the IGP said it was the outcome of the just ended general meeting of regional police commanders in Dodoma which among other things agreed to form a special team to probe allegations and crimes.
He said the move aims at sustaining peace and harmony in the country.
The IGP said the police force has strengthened patrols in most areas in the Isles and called upon the members of the public to cooperate with it in arresting the culprits.
Meanwhile speaking to journalists, the Zanzibar Police Commissioner Mussa Ali Mussa said that reverend Mushi was shot dead on Sunday morning at 7.30 in the morning while coming from his residence at Minara Miwili Church in Shangani Street heading to St. Teresia Church in Kibweni to lead the Sunday prayers.
Mussa said Mushi who was in a Toyota Hilux Surf with registration number Z162 AT was shot three times in the head, the bullets coming through the window of the left door of his vehicle.
He said the killers were hiding few metres from the church and as he negotiated a corner near the church they attacked him and escaped on a motorbike.
Dr Msafiri Marijani of Mnazi Mmmoja Referral Hospital said a postmortem on the deceased revealed three wounds on his head.
He said they were forced to go to the scene to collect important information for completing the medical investigation.
Home Affairs Minister Dr Emmanuel Nchimbi said President Jakaya Kikwete has issued permission for international investigators to assist in hunting for the people involved in sabotage against religious leaders in Zanzibar.
Nchimbi told journalists that people committing such offense were terrorists and that the government has decided to hunt them at any cost.
“President Kikwete had already issued a permit to collaborate with other countries to investigate and hunt for the people involved in the incident, Minister Nchimbi said.
On Christmas Day last year, a priest with Mpendae Roman Catholic Church in Zanzibar, reverend Ambrose Mkenda was shot by unidentified people, at his Tomondo residence, as he entered his residence. He survived.