Tanzanian albino toddler seized in feared witchcraft 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) - An albino toddler has been kidnapped in northern Tanzania, police said, raising fears he may be killed and his body parts used for witchcraft.

Unknown attackers broke into the house and slashed the child's mother with machetes before snatching the one-and-half-year-old boy in the northern Tanzanian district of Chato late on Saturday.

"Two bandits armed with machetes stormed into their kitchen, they hit his mother with machetes and took away the baby," said regional police chief Joseph Konyo.

The child's father, who was nearby during the attack, is being questioned, he said.

"We have asked the public for cooperation to arrest the suspects," said Konyo.

Albino body parts are sought after in Tanzania for witchcraft. At least 74 albinos have been murdered in the east African country since 2000, according to the United Nations.

In August, a UN rights expert blamed a rise in attacks against albinos on looming presidential elections, due in October 2015, leading political campaigners to turn to influential sorcerers for help.

Albino body parts sell for around $600 in Tanzania, with an entire corpse fetching $75,000, according to the UN.

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. In the West, it affects just one person in 20,000.

In December, a four-year-old albino girl was kidnapped in northern Tanzania. Multiple arrests were made but the child has not been found.