6 May 2013

Tanzania: Church Blast Kills One, 66 Injured

Photo: Lauren Everitt/AllAfrica
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete vows to hunt Arusha church bombers (file photo).

ONE person has died and 66 others injured following an explosion from what is believed to be a hand grenade thrown into a church compound in Arusha yesterday morning, police said.

The Arusha Regional Commissioner, Mr Magesa Mulongo, said the incident occured during a function to consecrate a new Roman Catholic church at Olasiti Parish in the Arusha Diocese.

He said the victim was pronounced dead on arrival at the Mount Meru Hospital. But some unconfirmed reports have it that three people have died.

"We have not confirmed the nature of the thing that exploded. It is suspected that something was thrown into the compound outside the new church where some worshippers were seated. After the explosion there was confusion, commotion and stampede as everybody in the compound took to his or her heels," the RC told the 'Daily News.'

He said all those who were inside the church including the envoy of the Holy See to Tanzania, Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, who officiated at the ceremony, and the Archbishop of the Arusha Arch-diocese, Dr Josephat Lebulu.

Mr Mulongo further said that Archbishop Padilla was in the region since Thursday last week and toured various districts including tourist destinations. "The consecration of the church was one of the final activities done by the Vatican representative in his tour which started on Thursday last week," he said.

The RC said there was no prior warning on the incident and so far no group has claimed responsibility. "Security officers were present in the church and the Vatican representative was given maximum security, but this incident has taken us by surprise," he said. Mr Mulongo said one person is being held by police for questioning.

"The victims were admitted to the Mount Meru Hospital, St Elizabeth Hospital and Selian Lutheran Hospital," he said.

Meanwhile, the Vice-President, Dr Mohamed Gharib Bilal has consoled the Christian faithfuls and victims of the blast and appealed for their patience. He cautioned against concluding the attack as religious-linked. He was in Shinyanga at the opening of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania's Lake Victoria South-Eastern Diocese.

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