Originally published in Barnabas Aid
Three people were killed and around 58 wounded in the bombing of a new church in Tanzania during a service to mark 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). Three of the wounded were in a critical condition.
Senior Church figures were in attendance for the inaugural service. One church member said:
It was a colourful celebration with joyous mood when a frightening explosion took place, coupled with loud shouts and crying of the church members.
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.