Fire destroys Catholic offices as Malawi unrest continues

Malawi Police  said they are investigating a fire-attack on offices of  Catholic Church secretariat in Lilongwe on Sunday.

The offices in Area 11, which are headquarters of Episcopal Conference of Malawi (ECM), suffered an extensive damage in the fire attack.Father Michael Useni house was the most affected.

Father Emmanuel Chimombo, who was present at the time of the fire attack,  said all property in the room has been razed down to ashes.

“Everything has been burnt to ashes,” he said.

The fire brigade from Lilongwe City Council swiftly came at the properties to extinguish the fire.

Bishop Zuza, head of Catholic church in Malawi

“We are investigating the matter,” Police spokesman Willie Mwaluka said.

Catholic secretariat officials said they had no idea why anyone would want to attack the church.

A senior Catholic official said s there was “no justification” for the  fire attack.

Fr. Dominic Kazingatchire, Chairman of the Association Of Diocesan Catholic Clergy of Malawi recently issued a statement expressing dismay with the recent attacks on the Bishop Chair of ECM, His Lordship, Bishop Joseph  Zuza  as a result of the homily he gave  during the Day of National Prayers for Peace  on 16th August 2011.

The statement said religious leaders are being harassed, threatened, disrespected, and denounced when they practice their prophetic role.

The attack comes after petrol-bomb fire torched the offices of the Institute for Policy Interaction headed by Rafik Hajat, one of Malawi’s most-outspoken critics of President Bingu wa Mutharika. There was also fire-attack on properties of Rev Macdonald Sembereka of Human Rights Consultative Committee and opposition politician Salim Bagus.

There has also been fire –attacks on two vehicles belonging to private owned Zodiak Broadcasting Services.

The Catholic Church in Malawi is the largest single religious denomination, accounting for almost half of the country’s 12 million population.

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