Monday, May 06, 2013
I am still in shock over the very first church bombing in Tanzania history. This is also the first time Arusha churches have been attacked. We are praying for justice to prevail.
A Huge blast rocked Arusha yesterday morning after an explosive device was set off at a Roman Catholic Church, killing one person and injuring more than 60.
The deceased, Regina Loning’o Kuresoi, was among the large congregation that had gathered for Sunday mass and to also witness the unveiling of the newly built church.
The inauguration was led by the Vatican Ambassador to Tanzania, Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla accompanied by the Arusha Catholic Diocese Archbishop Josaphat Louis Lebulu.
The house of worship is located in Arusha's Olasiti suburb and all was well until the explosion happened, only minutes after the start of the inaugural mass.
Reports allege, the explosive device was hauled over the church’s fence by an unidentified man.
Arusha Regional Police Commander Liberatus Sabas confirming the incident said a man has been arrested in connection with the tragic incident and is in custody as investigations continue as to the motive and perpetration of the horrific act that has terrorised the northern safari capital.
Explaining that the man was arrested following a tip-off from persons at the scene, RPC Sabas asked for patience and for the public to remain calm as investigations continue.
"We are still interrogating the suspect, we ask the public to stay calm and maintain peace," he said.
Regional Commissioner Magesa Mulongo described the blast as shocking, calling it the first of its kind in Tanzania’s history. He too however assured the public that the force will not rest until the culprits are brought to justice but meanwhile he called for calm and tranquility.
"People should continue with their daily activities as police and other security organs have secured the city and investigation is underway," Mulongo assured the masses.
Eye witness reports place the incident to have occurred between 10 and 11 am. They say the parishioners were gathering for the ‘one of its kind’ Sunday prayer at the inaugural mass of the new church.
"We were trying to organise ourselves for the mass, when we heard the loud blast, people began running out," a witness said. They reported that many were injured by the actual explosion while others were hurt during the panic stampede to exit the church.
Following an emergence consultation meeting held by a panel of clerics, Arusha’s Roman Catholic diocese spokesperson, Rev Festus Mangwangwi told reporters that the church has postponed the mass to mark the inauguration of the of the church until further notice.
Joshua Nassari (Arumeru-East, Chadema) among other political figures, called on the police to utilise power invested in them and to arrest all those behind the blast.
He then turned an accusatory finger at the ruling party, Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) alleging religious bigotry.
The country’s Vice President, Dr Gharib Bilal and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Said Mwema, among other delegates and officials, are expected to visit the city and explosion site.
Identified persons injured in the blast are Consesa Mbaga, Phillemon Gereza, Restia Matemu, Neema Daudi, Beath Comeli, Debora Joachim, Elizabeth Sale, Editha Ndiwo, Regina Daniel and Yosinta Msafiri.
Others are Joan Thembe (29), Neema Lazusu (18), Regina Fadhili (23), Joram Kisela (38), Novelti John (20), Inocent Charles (46), Lioba Osward (36), Glory Tesha (21), Fatuma Haji (42), Rose Pius (39) and Fikiri Kea (40).
Other more are John James (12), Juma James (12) Anna Kesy (54), Simon Andrea (18) and Anna Edward (54).
Contacted for comments, the Tanzania Episcopal Conference (TEC) Secretary General, Fr Anthony Makunde, said TEC is making a close follow up on information being given by Police and government leaders to establish the source of the incident.
“Although we have been informed that police have started investigation to arrest those involved they should know that the public wants to know the source of the ongoing religious related chaos in the country … what is behind these happenings in the houses of worship and among the religious leaders,” he queried.
He appealed to the government to implement its pledges of fighting against such incidents and show its intention to eliminate the problem by finding and dealing with the source, adding that police should go far with the investigation.
Religious bigotry has of recent engulfed Tanzania as religious leaders are attacked and killed while houses of worship are set to fire.
In December last year a priest with Mpendae Roman Catholic Church in Zanzibar Ambrose Mkenda was shot by unidentified people, at his Tomondo residence on Christmas Day while in February this year another Roman Catholic Priest Evaristus Mushi was shot to death at a Zanzibar’ church.
Prior to the latter incident, a Muslim leader, Chief Sheikh’s secretary, Sheikh Fadhil Suleiman Soraga, in the Isles were smeared with acid in at a Zanzibar beach by unknown people.
On February 11, this year, Assemblies of God pastor Mathayo Kachili was beheaded at Buseresere in Geita Region
From The Citizen:
Arusha. Authorities here have appealed for calm as Inspector General of Police Said Mwema rushed to the northern city yesterday to oversee investigations into the blast at a church ceremony that left one worshiper dead and at least 60 others injured, three of them critically.
Shock, panic and desperation gripped Arusha following the senseless attack which was executed as Vatican Ambassador to Tanzania Francisco Padilla, who was accompanied by Archbishop of Arusha Josphat Lebulu, was about to inaugurate a Catholic church at Olasiti on the outskirts of the normally serene city.
The attack happened despite heavy security presence in the area and Police Force spokesperson Advera Senso declined to comment, saying it was too early to give any meaningful appraisal of the incident.
“We appeal for calm and urge people to cooperate with the police. More information will be released in due course as we advance in our investigations. IGP Mwema has travelled to Arusha to oversee the investigations,” Ms Senso said when The Citizen contacted her in Dar es Salaam yesterday.
For his part, Arusha Regional Police Commander Liberatus Sabbas informed this paper that a manhunt for the attackers was underway and that one person was already being questioned.
Fear was rife in the city as news of the inexplicable crime against innocent worshipers spread across the country as other Christians attended Sunday service elsewhere. Hundreds at the savagely interrupted Olasiti church ceremony ran in all directions for safety.
Eye witnesses said the attack took place at around 10.40am as parish members and other Roman Catholic believers converged at the main door to witness the opening ceremony.
Just as the Vatican envoy, who was the official guest, was about to cut the tape to let the believers get into the newly-completed church building, there was a huge explosion in the middle of the crowd.
Mr Khalifa Mshana, a cameraman with the Tanzania Broadcasting Corporation (TBC), who was covering the function, told The Citizen that the ‘bomb’ exploded only a few metres from the Vatican envoy.
“A choir was entertaining the crowd as the church leaders solemnly moved forward to witness the cutting of the tape; suddenly, there was a huge blast behind me. What followed later was confusion with many running helter-skelter,” said Mr Mshana, adding, “People were yelling and running in all directions; some were bleeding from cuts in their legs.”
He told of how the Vatican envoy and other senior local and foreign church leaders were quickly whisked into the building for safety.
The Arusha regional commissioner, Mr Magesa Mulongo, who reached the site of the incident at around 12:47pm, noted that security had been tightened ahead of the event because regional authorities were aware the Pope’s representative would be one of the VIP guests, for he had been in the region since Thursday