Saudi Muslims Welcome Opening Of New Church By Blowing It Up, Killing Christians
Two people were killed in Sunday's attack during a mass at a Tanzanian church, officials said Monday, as President Jakaya Kikwete called the explosion an "act of terrorism".
Six people have been arrested, including four from Saudi Arabia, officials said.
"This is an act of terrorism perpetrated by a cruel person or group who are enemies of the country," Kikwete said in a statement, condemning the bombing in the northern Tanzanian town of Arusha in which at least 30 people were also wounded.
The deadly attack on the church is one of the first such incidents to hit Tanzania reports Agence France-Presse.
Officials have given no indication as to who might have carried out the attack, but tensions have been high between Tanzania's Christian and Muslim communities in recent months.
Arusha's commissioner Magesa Mulongo confirmed that two people had died and that six people had been arrested, two from Tanzania and four from Saudi Arabia.
"Investigations are ongoing," Mulongo said, adding that the four Saudis had arrived at Arusha airport on Saturday.
The newly built church, in the Olasti district on the outskirts of Arusha, was celebrating its first ever mass when the blast occurred, and people were squeezed into the church building as well as sitting on benches outside.
The Vatican's ambassador to Tanzania, Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, was attending mass at the church but was not harmed, officials said.
Kikwete, who said he was "shocked and deeply saddened" by the reports of the explosion, called on people to remain calm while police investigated the attacks.
"We are ready to deal with all criminals including terrorists and their agents who are based in the country or externally," Kikwete said.
After the attack, worshippers accused the police and the government of failing to properly protect them.
In February, a Catholic priest was shot dead outside his church on the largely Muslim archipelago of Zanzibar, the second such killing in recent months. A church was also set on fire on Zanzibar in February.
In March, 52 followers of controversial Muslim cleric Sheikh Ponda Issa Ponda were jailed for a year for violent riots in October in the commercial capital of Dar es Salaam, sparked by rumours that a 12-year-old boy at a Christian school had urinated on a copy of the Koran.
Ponda is the head of Jumuiya ya wa Islamu, or the "community of Islam", a group not recognised by the Tanzanian government.
|The Holy See's envoy to Tanzania Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, |
center-left, leads a prayer during the inauguration of the new church.