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5 people killed in Tanzania’s Zanzibar ahead of elections

An opposition spokesman on Tuesday reported that at least five people have been shot dead by Tanzanian authorities on the country’s Zanzibar archipelago shortly before elections.

Salim Bimani, opposition ACT-Wazalendo spokesman for the island of Pemba said “information we have as of now is that five people are dead, they have been shot by law enforcers.

“Some of them were shot in their homes. This is continuation of election violence. It did not start yesterday or today.’’

Multiple calls to police to request confirmation went unanswered.

Zanzibar is a semi-autonomous region of Tanzania and has its own president separate from that of the mainland.

The island’s opposition candidate for president, the ACT-Wazalendo’s leader Seif Sharif Hamad, was arrested while casting his ballot in early voting ahead of Wednesday’s polls.

Bimani confirmed that Hamad remained in police custody.

Tanzanian President John Magufuli, in power since 2015, is widely expected to win the Oct. 28 vote, despite the recent return to the country of main opposition challenger Tundu Lissu, in exile since an assassination attempt on his life three years ago.

Lissu is backing Hamad for president in Zanzibar.

Amnesty International has warned that Magufuli was cracking down on dissent and free expression, ahead of the polls. 

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