When Islam moves in, churches Â go up in smoke:
Four Saudi Arabian nationals have been arrested in connection with a bomb attack on a Tanzanian church that the country’s president has called “an act of terror”.
The Vatican’s ambassador to Tanzania was at the Roman Catholic church in Arusha, which had just been built and was holding its first mass, when the bomb went off.
He was unharmed, but two people died and 30 were injured in the first significant such raid on Tanzania’s Christian community at worship.
Magesa Mulongo, the Arusha regional commissioner, said on Monday that six people had been arrested, two Tanzanians and four Saudis.
“Investigations are ongoing,” Mr Mulongo told the French news agency AFP in Arusha town, a popular tourist destination for visitors heading to the Serengeti or Ngorongoro wildife areas, or planning to climb Mt Kilimanjaro.
There have been a series of violent incidents between Tanzania’s Christians and Muslims, who make up roughly equal proportions of the population of 48 million people.
Last month, in the far south of Tanzania, police fired tear gas to disperse around 200 Christians rioters attempting to torch a mosque over an argument over who should be allowed to slaughter animals.
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.
The arrest of the four Saudis could not immediately be confirmed. Tanzania has not been targeted by foreign terrorists since the US embassy bombing in 1998, and Sunday’s attack in Arusha was the first large-scale attack at a place of worship in the country.
“This is an act of terrorism perpetrated by a cruel person or group who are enemies of the country,” Jakaya Kikwete, Tanzania’s president, said in a statement on Sunday, without mentioning Saudi Arabia.
In West Africa, Nigeria is currently experiencing a wave of attacks on Christian places of worship in its majority Muslim north, blamed on Islamist terror group Boko Haram.