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article imageToronto's Zanzibari distraught over ongoing violence (Updated) Special

By Khalid Magram     Oct 18, 2012 in World
Zanzibar - While sectarian turmoil continues to create havoc in parts of Zanzibar. Zanzibari who live in Toronto are worried for their friend and family’s safety in violent-stricken East African Island.
The unpleasant images of death and destruction out of Zanzibar by local bloggers and on twitter (hashtag #Zanzibar) have been upsetting and terrifying for many.
"We received a text message on the situation in Zanzibar from our relative," Rajbali Bhaloo said. "They have locked themselves in their home for two days now."
They can also hear some frequent small explosions down the streets, Bhaloo said.
United States through their embassy in Tanzania have issued an emergency message on the ongoing chaos to its citizens on Wednesday.
There are still reports of demonstrations, roadblocks, tire burning, rock throwing, and rioting in the Darajani, Mbuyuni, and Kisonge districts of Stone Town, Zanzibar.
"Avoid these areas until the situation has returned to normal and continue to monitor local media for updates." reads the message.
Zanzibar with its tranquility and pristine blue water and white sandy beaches is a favorite tourist destination for many holiday seekers from Canada and around the world.
Fighting between police and supporters of Sheikh Farid Hadi, a leader of the Islamic Uamsho (Awakening), a separatist movement demanding independence from Tanzania, started on Wednesday, a day after the Uamsho leader disappeared.
Sheikh Hadi 's whereabouts are unknown to his supporters since Tuesday night, Uamsho secretary Abdallah Saidi told Reuters by telephone. Zanzibar police commissioner Mussa Ali Mussa said police were trying to establish where Sheikh Hadi is on the Island.
The latest outbreak of violence is the third this year in the predominantly Muslim island on the Indian Ocean archipelago which is part of Tanzania but ruled by a semi-autonomous secular government. However, some Zanzibaris are demanding a full independence from Tanzania.
Recently Zanzibar's main opposition Civic United Front (CUF) party decided to form a government of national unity with the ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) party. Leaving many Islanders who wants a full independence from Tanzania to support the Islamic Uamsho (Awakening) movement who seems sympathetic to their cause of separation.
According to Bhaloo there are about 5000 Zanzibari living in Toronto and in the immediate surrounding area of Greater Area of Toronto. Many still have relatives and friends living in violent-hit parts of the Indian Ocean archipelago.
The latest according to BBC one policeman was killed after being attacked on Wednesday evening. On Thursday evening joint media conference both police and Uamsho leaders have called for calm.
Map of Stone Town
As of Friday October 19: A sporadic clashes between supporters of Uamsho movement and police took place after Friday prayers. Groups of mostly youth supporters of Uamsho catapulting rocks at police who retaliated with tear gas in sporadic exchanges around the main historic area of Stone Town.
Reuters is reporting there has been road closures, with trees and rocks on the streets. Most shops and business shut down for the day and police were seen patrolling near mosques around Stone Town.
Clashes broke-out on Wednesday, a day after the Uamsho (Awakening) leader Sheikh Farid Hadi disappeared in a mysterious circumstances. The group demands that police guarantee Hadi's safety.
The Uamsho Ultimatum
"We are waiting until tomorrow at 4 o'clock. That will be our deadline. If Farid is not found, we will know what to do," Sheikh Azzan Hamdan told reporters on the steps of Farid's home next to the Mbuyuni mosque.
Hamdan was not specify what actions Uamsho would take.
Update: Muslim cleric whose kidnap sparked riots was freed on Friday night. However there are unconfirmed reports that Sheikh Hadi has taken for questioning by Zanzibar police Saturday.
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