15 June 2014

Tanzania: Police Hunt Suspects in Zanzibar Blast

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
Tanzanian government to avert bomb attacks.

Zanzibar — POLICE here have launched an intensive manhunt for the men behind the blast, believed to be a bomb, at the Darajani Business area Friday that left a 27-year old Muslim preacher dead and eight others injured.

The Assistant Director of Criminal Investigations (ADCI) Yussuf Ilembo told a news conference on Saturday that police were determined to nab the culprits and would leave no stone unturned in their drive. He appealed to law abiding citizens to help the police in their work.

"No suspects are being held so far but we ask the people to remain calm and not to panic as the police is on full alert," he said. He named the dead as Sheikh Mohammed Abdalla Mkombalaguha of Tanga, Tanzania Mainland.

He had arrived in Zanzibar on June 9, 2014 to conduct a series of preaching meetings in various mosques, Mr Ilembo added. Ilembo also named the injured as Kassim Maftah Kassim (38) , from Pongwe, Tanga, Kassim Issa Muhammad (36), Hamad Nassor Kassim (46), Khelef Abdalla (21), Khalid Ahmed Haidar (16), Ahmed Haidar Jabir (47) and Suleiman Ali Juma (21), all from Zanzibar.

The Urban West Regional Police Commander (RPC), Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Mkadam Khamis said the motive behind the attack, which also damaged two cars with registration numbers Z 675 CN and Z 268 FM was still unclear.

The blast occurred at a time when Zanzibar town is teeming with visitors attending the annual Zanzibar International Film Festival (ZIFF). The blast occurred at the Darajani Mosque at around 8.30 pm, just after the day's night prayers.

In the last few years there have been a number of attacks in Zanzibar, targeting Christian leaders, churches, tourists and businesses believed to be owned by Christians from the Mainland.

In February last year, two young men on a motorbike blocked Father Evaristus Mushi of the Roman Catholic Church as he tried to enter a church in Stone Town to celebrate Sunday Mass and shot him in the head, killing him on the spot. Police arrested a number of suspects but were later released on bail.

The case has since cooled. On Christmas Day, in 2012 unidentified gunmen shot and seriously wounded Catholic priest, Father Ambrose Mkenda as he returned home from church.

Zanzibar was Christianity's entry point to the heartland of East and Central Africa but Christians there remain a minority, about three per cent of the 1.2 million people, who are otherwise entirely Muslim.

It would be wrong though to try and link the attacks to frictions between Christians and Muslims in Zanzibar who have coexisted peacefully for years.

Zanzibar is currently hosting a religious gathering of Muslims from across East and Central Africa. President Jakaya Kikwete reminded Muslims recently that Muslims had a big role in keeping peace and stability, saying that greed for leadership was to blame for conflicts in Muslim communities and in several areas in the world.

"We need peace and stability. Let us help keep our world a place of peace," said Kikwete in his speech read on his behalf by Mr Mohamed Aboud Mohamed, Minister of State in the Second Vice President's Office.

The meeting was being held at Fuoni area, about 20 kilometres south of Stone Town, a UNESCO heritage site. Sheiklh Ali Khamis from the organising team said youths should learn and practice what the Holy Quran says.

Keeping the peace should be the priority for all," he said. The faithful came from Kenya, Uganda, Malawi, Burundi, Rwanda and hosts Tanzania.

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