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Tanzania Arrests 4 Saudis Over church Bomb Attack  

Tanzanian police have arrested at least six suspects, including four Saudi Arabian nationals, in connection with a bomb attack on a church in the northern city of Arusha on Sunday in which two people were killed and dozens injured, police officials said Tuesday.

It is the first time foreigners have been arrested for suspected involvement in the hitherto local religious tensions that have been simmering for several months now between the country's Christians and Muslims.


Associated Press

Wounded churchgoers lie on the ground after a blast at the St. Joseph Mfanyakazi Roman Catholic Church in Arusha, Tanzania Sunday.

"Four Saudi Arabia nationals were arrested near the Namanga border post, on the Kenyan border. We suspect they were the brains behind the attack," a police official, who declined to be named, said by telephone from Arusha.

Magesa Mulongo, the Arusha regional police commissioner, confirmed the arrests and said a task force involving the country's security agencies has been established to put investigations on a fast track. The suspects are expected to be produced in court very soon. The police declined to reveal the identities of the Saudis, saying it could jeopardize the continuing investigations.

President Jakaya Kiwete cut short his three-day visit to Kuwait following the blast. In a statement, Mr. Kikwete described the attack as "an act of terrorism."

Tanzania's home affairs minister, Emmanuel Nchimbi, told the national assembly on Monday that a bomb was hurled into a crowd on Sunday as the Vatican's ambassador to Tanzania, Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla, was attending the first official Mass at the newly built church. One person was killed on the spot while a second person died in the hospital. Around 60 people are recovering from injuries suffered in the attack, Mr. Nchimbi said.

The Saudi embassy in Tanzania wouldn't comment immediately on the arrests. In February, two Christian priests were killed in the largely Muslim semiautonomous archipelago of Zanzibar, sparking a wave of revenge attacks on Muslims and mosques on the island.

Sunday's attack was the first on a church in mainland Tanzania since the tensions escalated.

Tanzania, East Africa's second-largest economy, was last hit by deadly terror blasts in 1998, when simultaneous explosions at the U.S. embassies in the country's largest city, Dar es Salaam, and Nairobi, Kenya, left more than 200 people dead. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attacks. Since then, the country has been spared further attacks, with al Qaeda's Somalia-based affiliate, al-Shabaab, targeting neighboring Uganda and Kenya a number of times in recent years.

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