March 6, 2020 / 9:15 AM / a month ago

Zambian president says church leaders involved in reprisals for chemical spray attacks

Zambia's President Edgar Chagwa Lungu addresses the 74th session of the United Nations General Assembly at U.N. headquarters in New York City, New York, U.S., September 25, 2019. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

LUSAKA (Reuters) - More than 50 people in Zambia have been killed in mob violence triggered in response to attacks in which people were sprayed with poisonous substances, President Edgar Lungu said on Friday, blaming church leaders for some of the reprisals.

The chemical attacks began in December and were initially confined to the mineral-rich copperbelt but have since spread to the capital Lusaka. Police have yet pinpoint the exact number of victims or the motive for the incidents.

In a speech to parliament, Lungu said some church and traditional leaders were inciting mobs to assault people suspected of being involved in the attacks. Many Zambians have been angered by what they perceive as an inadequate response by police.

Reporting by Chris Mfula, writing by Mfuneko Toyana; editing by John Stonestreet

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