Tanzania albino boy loses hand in latest attack

At least 76 albinos have been murdered since 2000 with their dismembered body parts selling for around $600 (528 euros) and entire bodies fetching $75,000, according to United Nations experts (AFP Photo/Tony Karumba)

Dar es Salaam (AFP) - A six-year-old albino boy has had his right hand hacked off in the latest of a string of attacks in Tanzania against the minority, police said Sunday.

The boy, Baraka Cosmas, was sleeping at home with his mother in the village of Kipenda, in Tanzania's south-western Rukwa region, when a gang of assailants stormed in late Saturday, regional police commander Jacob Mruanda said.

"The gangsters got hold of the victim's mother, Prisca Shaaban, and beat her severely after she refused to hand over the boy," Mruanda said.

"The assailants later used machetes to cut off the boy's right palm and walked out," he added, saying the boy and his mother were being treated in hospital.

The latest assault comes days after Tanzania's President Jakaya Kikwete blasted the wave of killings and attacks against albinos, whose body parts are used for witchcraft, as a "disgusting and big embarrassment for the nation".

During the week a court in the northwest of the country also sentenced four people to death for the murder of an albino woman.

According to a UN expert, attacks on people with albinism have claimed the lives of at least 75 since 2000, and that albino body parts sell for around $600, with an entire corpse fetching $75,000.

Albinism is a hereditary genetic condition which causes a total absence of pigmentation in the skin, hair and eyes. It affects one Tanzanian in 1,400, often as a result of inbreeding, experts say.