The recent attack on an upscale supermarket in Kenya's capital of Nairobi kept the shocked Arusha residents glued on TVs to witness the unfolding drama as the Kenyan forces battled the terrorists.
The Westgate shopping mall was a scene of fierce battle between the security forces and terrorists who claim to be from the Somali Al Shabaab militants. More than 70 people were confirmed dead and 200 injured.
Live coverage by the Kenyan and international TV stations kept large audiences in Arusha hotels, offices, commercial centres, bars and households following the horrific scenes, praying that such attack should not happen in Tanzania.
Much anxiety was on September 23 afternoon when the Kenyan forces mounted a major assault on the terrorists in a bid to rescue the hostages with thick smoke billowing from the besieged building which seats in Nairobi's affluent suburb.
Although the residents of Arusha prayed that such an attack should not happen on the country's soil, many refrained to discuss the matter in public given the sensitivity of the matter.
But some whispered that the terrorist attack of that magnitude was always organized from outside Kenya and East Africa and could involve illegal immigrants from outside the region. Some called on the authorities to be wary of illegal aliens from outside EA.
Arusha experienced two deadly 'terrorist' attacks early this year. One of the attacks took place on May 5th and targeted a new Roman Catholic Church at Olasiti on the city suburbs. Another one took place on June 15th at an election rally by the opposition Chadema.
In both attacks, blamed on bombs or hand grenades, a total of seven people were killed and scores injured. No group has ever claimed responsibility for the blasts which sent shockwaves across the city which attracts many foreign visitors and tourists.
Arusha has, however, been on alert as far as security is concerned since the bomb blasts at the US embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998. During the equally deadly terrorist attack in Mombasa in 2002, some East African Community functions during the Heads of State Summit had to be cancelled.
In neighbouring Moshi, residents of the town had also been closely monitoring the Westgate supermarket siege with some hinting that the country was safe because in had no troops in strife-torn Somalia.
One of them confided had Tanzania sent troops to the Horn of Africa country, it could have been subjected to terrorist attacks like in Kenya and Uganda. Terrorists claiming to be Al Shabaab attacked Kampala in July 2010, killing over 70 people.
"It was a wise decision for the government to decline a request by Somalia to send our soldiers there", a Moshi resident who is familiar with EA regional affairs said when asked to comment on the bloody events in an upmarket Nairobi shopping centre.
Scores of people in Moshi were following events like on TVs. However, just as was the case in Arusha there was no panic and many went about their daily activities believing that the municipality was safe from terrorist attacks.
But some people have repeatedly insisted that security should always be beefed up. "Tanzania has not been targeted by Al Shabaab but this does not mean we should not take measures to improve security in some areas like the super markets", they said.
Officials in the tourism sector in Arusha have declined to comment. But there are fears that any drop in the tourist arrivals in Kenya could impact on Tanzania because about 40 per cent of visitors enter the country through Kenya.
"It is time we should be vigilant against illegal immigrants from outside the region", a group of people lamented on in an Arusha restaurant as they watched the besieged shop on fire during the final assault by Kenyan forces.
The East African Community says it is ready to give any support deemed necessary to the Kenyan government following the terrorist attack on Westgate shopping mall.
In its condolence to President Uhuru Kenyatta, the EAC secretary general Dr. Richard Sezibera said the regional organization would assist Kenya if approached on the request.
The regional organization said It was greatly shocked by the terrorist attack on Saturday last week in which over 70 people were reported to have been killed and hundreds injured.
"Terrorism cannot be justified for any reason and any reason to justify it is unacceptable", the EAC boss said, adding: "On behalf of EAC and on my own behalf, I hereby convey my most heartfelt condolences and deep sympathy to the bereaved families and to the injured quick recovery".
Flags at the EAC headquarters in Arusha flew half-mast in solidarity with Kenya which observed a three day mourning of people killed during the four-day siege at the West-gate supermarket.
The employees of the Community were preparing to donate money and other items which would be delivered to the victims of the suicide bombing which has sent shockwaves througthout the region.
The East African Business Council (EABC), an apex body of private sector associations in the region, expressed its profound shock and disbelief on the September 21 tragedy.
"We condemn this act of terrorism as cowardly and perpetrated by evil. Terrorism cannot be justified by any reason", said the executive secretary of the Council Mr., Andrew Luzze in a message to the Kenyan government.
EABC further stands in solidarity with the President and the People of the Republic of Kenya as the security forces work around the clock to contain the situation.
"We kindly request members of the Business Community to offer any possible support they can provide to support the victims and the security personnel currently the mall to ensure that calm is restored and the attack is neutralized. We wish to thank members who have already offered their support to the victims and the support groups", the message of condolence added.