January 31 , 2001; A series of violent clashes began January 27 on the Tanzanian islands of Zanizibar and Pemba. Reports indicate that on January 27 and January 28, a total of 14 people were killed. The Tanzanian government sent police reinforcements from the mainland. Police killed nine people on Pemba and four more on Zanzibars main island, Unguja Island. The fourteenth person slain was a policemen, who was beheaded with a machete in Pembas main town, Chake Chake. Later reports indicated Tanzanian police may have shot two more people in a confrontation on January 26. A gunbattle was also reported in the town on Wete, on Pemba. By January 29 the official death toll was 24 people (police and civilians). The clashes began after government police confronted members of the Civic United Front (CUF), the opposition party which is demanding new elections. The CUF claims that the islands elections (held in
October 2000) were fraudulent. The CUF staged some demonstrations in November 2000, and political tension increased. The CUF maintains the governing Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM, also called the Revolutionary Party) stole the elections. Is there a danger of the trouble in Zanzibar spilling over to the Tanzanian mainland? The Tanzanian government thinks so. There are reports of a beefed up police presence in mainland cities. (Zanzibar and Pemba are semi-autonomous, with strong local governments, but the islands defense and security are provided by the national Tanzanian government.)
Reports indicate that several key members of Zanzibars opposition Civic United Front (CUF) are now in hiding in Kenya. Its unclear if they are officially seeking asylum, but they are fleeing the fighting in Zanzibar.