Reports suggest two demonstrators were killed on Wednesday in a protest outside the police headquarters in the Zambian capital Lusaka, where opposition leader Hakainde Hichilema was being questioned.
AFP reports that riot police arrived to break up a crowd of several hundred demonstrators and shots were heard, leaving the blood-stained bodies of two men on the ground after the protestors fled.
Police issued a statement saying that two people were reportedly killed by gunfire after tear gas was used to disperse an “unruly” crowd, and said they were investigating the circumstances, which were not immediately clear.
Hichilema said “snipers” had deliberately targeted demonstrators. “I say so because of the way the execution was done. It was professionally done,” he said, contending that the two fatalities had been shot in the head.
“Those of us who understand this industry know that that was specialist individuals that were planted in the crowd to kill people. To the family of Kaunda, the family of Nsama: your death will not be in vain. There will be change of government come August 2021.”
“The blood of those killed today is on the hands of (President Edgar) Lungu,” he charged.
Hichilema, 58, is Lungu’s main contender in elections due next August.
Lungu, 63, is struggling with a wave of unpopularity and internal divisions within his party, fuelled by Zambia’s economic problems and anger at perceived corruption.