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Church in Tanzania bombed during inaugur...

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Church in Tanzania bombed during inaugural service; five killed

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Church in Tanzania bombed during inaugural service; five killed

Country/Region: Tanzania, Africa

At least five people were killed and around 60 wounded in the bombing of a new church building in Tanzania during a service to mark its official opening.

The church was attacked during its official opening
The church was attacked during its official opening

An explosive device was thrown into the church compound in Olasti, a predominantly Christian suburb of Arusha, on Sunday (5 May). The attack was condemned by Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete as an “act of terrorism”.

Among those killed were James Gabriel (16) and Regina Longino Kurusei (45). Many of the wounded were in a critical condition.

Senior Church figures were in attendance for the inaugural service. A Barnabas Aid contact in Tanzania said:

This was… a well-planned attack. Even before it the threat was given and still we have many threats. Pray for us and that God will overcome all these in Jesus' name.

Chaos in the aftermath of the bombing
Chaos in the aftermath of the bombing

He said that radical camps in the country were teaching young Muslims that Christians must be killed or live as second-class citizens. He said that senior Christian leaders had reported details of these camps to the authorities, but no serious action had been taken against them.

Christian leaders and converts from Islam are particularly vulnerable to attack.

Eight suspects have been arrested, four Saudi Arabians and four Tanzanians; one of them, Victor Calisti Ambrose, is alleged to have thrown the bomb.

Police had previously warned of the potential threat of violence by al-Qaeda and Somalia-based al-Shabaab, which has been behind a number of anti-Christian incidents in neighbouring Kenya.

The bombing follows a number of attacks on Christian leaders and chusrches in Tanzania. Two church leaders were killed in separate incidents in February; another had been shot in the face and shoulder on Christmas Day.

Several church buildings were torched and vandalised in October 2012 after a Christian boy was accused of desecrating a Quran. 

Islamic separatist group UAMSHO (Association for Islamic Mobilisation and Propagation), which wants Zanzibar to become independent from mainland Tanzania, was behind this and other church attacks

Opposition MPs on Sunday accused the government of being the main cause of religious tension in the country. Tundu Lissu said that the government was implicitly supporting the perpetrators by keeping silent on the bombing and torching of churches and killing of religious leaders.

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