Zambia: Arson targets major bank, market in capital
In the wake of arson targeting a major bank and a market in the capital early Tuesday morning, barely a day after a large power outage, officials in Zambia are calling for an end to acts of "sabotage".
Persons unknown set fire to the Lusaka market branch of the Zambia National Commercial Bank as well as the adjacent City Market which houses over 5,000 merchants.
The bank suffered partial damage, while city fire-fighters with help from the Zambian Air Force are still battling to quench the giant fire at the market, one of three modern markets in Lusaka built with help from the European Union.
Kakoma Kanganja, police inspector general, told reporters that a $35,000 award is being offered for information leading to the perpetrators.
He stressed how the fires come barely 48 hours after "sabotage" cutting power to Zambia's Southern and Copperbelt regions.
"These acts of sabotage have to stop. As police, we are doing everything possible to ensure that the people behinds these acts are identified and isolated because they are a danger to society," he added.
In April, President Edgar Lungu told journalists in Lusaka that he was greatly troubled by acts of arson and threatened that if they continued he would be forced to declare a state of emergency.
Between April and June, the country has suffered several mysterious fires that saw 120 market stalls at Lusaka's Kamwala market burn down to cinders.
There were also blazes at a hostel at Chalimbana University, and five courthouses were burned down in Lusaka, Mongu, and Choma in the country's Southern Province.
But some opposition parties, especially the UPND, charge the acts of "sabotage" are an inside job by government to consolidate Lungu's leadership.
"These fires on government properties are a ploy by the government to cause a state of emergency which will result in a one-party state," UPND Chairperson Mutale Nalumango told reporters.