NAIROBI: A controversial Tanzanian Muslim preacher was in hospital Monday after being wounded in clashes between police and his supporters who tried to block his arrest, police said.
Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda, head of the Jumuiya ya wa Islamu (Community of Islam in Swahili), a group not recognised by the Tanzanian authorities, was wounded on Saturday in Morogoro, some 200 kilometres (125 miles) west of Dar es Salaam.
Police fired into the air when stone-throwing supporters of the preacher blocked them as they tried to arrest him for "inciting unrest", said police spokeswoman Advera Senso.
It was not clear exactly what caused Ponda's injuries.
In May, Ponda was handed a one-year suspended sentence for "criminal trespass", after he and 49 of his supporters were tried for inciting violence and theft after the sacking of churches during riots in October.
"We wanted (Ponda) for several days but were unable to put our hands on him," said Senso, adding the preacher is now being treated in hospital in Dar es Salaam.
Senso said the May sentencing had "led to disorder in several places in mainland Tanzania and even Zanzibar."
No connection has been made between Ponda and the attack in Zanzibar last week, when acid was thrown into the faces of two British women by two unknown attackers.
In Tanzania, where Muslims and Christians each make up around a third of the population, the communities traditionally live peacefully side-by-side, but a series of attacks have raised tensions.
Tanzania's second most senior Islamic preacher Al Had Musa Salum called Monday for the "setting up of an independent commission of inquiry" to investigate the wounding of Ponda.