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Six held over Arusha church attack

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Home Affairs minister Emmanuel Nchimbi delivers in Parliament yesterday the government statement on Sunday’s church bombing in Arusha, which killed two people and wounded more than 60. PHOTO | FILBERT RWEYEMAMU 

By  By Florence Mugarula and Peter Nyanje

Posted  Monday, May 6  2013 at  22:00

In Summary

Dr Nchimbi declined to reveal the identity and citizenship of the foreigners on the grounds that it could jeopardise investigations.

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Dodoma. Police are questioning two Tanzanians and four foreigners on the Sunday bomb attack on a church in Arusha. Minister for Home Affairs Emmanuel Nchimbi yesterday named 20-year-old motorcyclist Victor Ambrose as one of those being held in connection with the attack that left two people dead and about 60 injured.
Dr Nchimbi told Parliament that Mr Ambrose is suspected of throwing a bomb into the crowd when the Vatican envoy to Tanzania, Archbishop Francisco Padilla, and Archbishop Josaphat Lebulu were leading mass during the consecration of a new church building in Olasit Parish. Regina Longino Kurusei , 45, was killed on the spot and James Gabriel, 16, died on the way to Muhimbili National Hospital.Further investigations are being conducted to establish what kind of bomb it was.
Dr Nchimbi declined to reveal the identity and citizenship of the foreigners on the grounds that it could jeopardise investigations. But Arusha Regional Commissioner Magesa Mulongo later told Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda, when he was visiting the wounded in hospital, that the attackers are citizens of Saudi Arabia. “They were arrested when trying to cross the Namanga border into Kenya on Sunday evening,” Mr Mulongo told Mr Pinda.
To hasten the investigations, Dr Nchimbi said, a taskforce has been formed to ensure all culprits are arrested and face the law. The full range of defence and security agencies, including the Tanzania People’s Defence Forces (TPDF), have been engaged in the investigation.
Dr Nchimbi said: “We have formed the taskforce to investigate the matter, I am confident that those who are behind this incident would be arrested and taken to court. We are doing everything in our capacity to address the situation.
Inspector General of Police Said Mwema, Deputy Minister for Home Affairs Pereira Silima, Vice President Mohamed Bilal, Arusha Regional Commissioner Magesa Mulongo and the regional security committee visited the scene on Sunday.

Politicians weigh in on church attack
In Parliament, meanwhile, legislators from both the ruling CCM and the main opposition camp, Chadema, traded accusations on which party was to blame for rising attacks on houses of worships and clerics.
Mr Tundu Lissu (Singida East–Chadema) and his Mbozi West counterpart, Mr David Silinde, accused the government of fuelling religious tensions. The ruling Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) legislators, in turn, pointed an accusing finger at Chadema, arguing that remarks by the party’s leaders that the country would be ungovernable had come to pass.
Mr Silinde, who is the secretary of Chadema MPs, said the government had long refused to say the truth on burning issues of the day. “The truth is the only weapon that will save this nation,” he added. “The nation is faced with religious tension but the government has been giving us different information.”
Dr Nchimbi had earlier warned against politicising the Sunday attack. “The government has been disappointed with politicians who use such incidents that claim people’s lives for political gain,” he said. “It is inhuman and the government will not tolerate it.”
CCM, Chadema and the Tanzania Muslim Council (Bakwata) condemned the Sunday attack in Arusha and urged the government to do all it can to get to the root of attacks on churches. “CCM stands with all leaders who have spoken bitterly on the matter,” said Mr Abdulrahman Kinana, the CCM secretary general. “We condemn the act.”
Sheikh Issa Bin Shaaban Simba, head of Bakwata, said: “We condemn the attack and we urge security organs to work hard to find the culprits. This is a sad situation for all Tanzanians.”
Chadema Chairman Freeman Mbowe telephoned the secretary of the Tanzania Episcopal Centre, Fr Antony Makundi, and relayed condolences on the death of church members.