3 Emiratis held over Tanzania church bombing: UAE’s Foreign Ministry

May 8, 2013

Wounded churchgoers lie on the ground after an explosion at St. Joseph Mfanyakazi Roman Catholic Church in Tanzania’s northern city of Arusha, on May 5, 2013.

The United Arab Emirates says three of its citizens are in custody over a recent bomb attack at a Roman Catholic church in northern Tanzania.

“We are following with interest the issue of the three citizens, who are being held in Tanzania,” the UAE Foreign Ministry said on its Twitter account on Wednesday.

It was not clear whether the three were additional suspects in Sunday’s attack or they were among four attackers originally identified as Saudis.

The attack occurred during the inaugural Mass of the St. Joseph Mfanyakazi Roman Catholic Church in the suburb of Olasti in the city of Arusha, with a predominantly Christian population.

According to Reuters, Tanzanian officials initially said four Saudis were being held after the attack, but the government later said they were “foreigners of Middle Eastern origin,” without mentioning their nationality.

According to reports on Tuesday, Saudi Ambassador to Tanzania Hani Abdallah Mo’menah said in Dar es Salaam that one Saudi and three Emiratis had been arrested.

“When the attack happened, the Saudi, his three Emirati friends and two Tanzanian friends happened to be where the explosion took place in Arusha,” he said.

Two people were killed and 60 others were wounded in the bombing, which Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete called an “act of terrorism.”

The Vatican’s ambassador to Tanzania and the archbishop of Arusha were attending the ceremony, but escaped unharmed.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far.

Tanzania has a precedent for similar attacks that have targeted both Muslims and Christians.



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