TANZANIA (eTN) – A bomb blast which hit Tanzania’s northern tourist city of Arusha Saturday evening had raised an eyebrow over volatile security in Tanzania with a possibility of terrorists hibernating in this African nation to terrorize residents and foreign tourists visiting East Africa.
Three people were reported killed and more than 70 injured when a bomb was thrown to a thronged political election rally held by Tanzanian opposition party of Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (Party for Democracy and Development) at a locality in northern city of Arusha, commonly known as Geneva of Africa.
Eye witnesses told eTN from Arusha that an unknown person threw a grenade to the people being addressed by the opposition party’s Chairman Mr. Freeman Mbowe.
“It was a nightmare. We saw something flying over followed by a big explosion,” one witness said.
“I saw human blood trickling on the ground, pieces of cloth, paper boxes, and shopping bags. It was a bomb,” added the witness to eTN.
Police and other security operatives in northern Tanzania said they were investigating the incident for more reports.
But, most embarrassing is how terrorists managed to operate in Tanzania without security alert. A bomb blast hit a Catholic church in the same city (Arusha) 40 days ago, killing 3 people while 60 others were injured from the blast that targeted Catholic leaders and the Apostolic Nuncio to Tanzania, Archbishop Francisco Montecillo Padilla.
Saturday’s explosion, a second terror attack in the history of Arusha, had so far raised security concern over the safety of this fast-growing tourist hub in East Africa and a center for international conferences.
Security operatives said the blast was a bomb attack and was hurled from the perimeter of the basketball playground where the party leaders addressed the well-attended election rally.
Member of Parliament for Arusha, Godbless Lema, said he was shocked by the attack that targeted to kill him and other leaders of the opposition party. Arusha city is a political constituency under the Chama Cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo party.
But, a section of residents from Tanzania’s northern safari capital of Arusha raised an alarm over volatile security in big cities and towns, citing poor training and modern security facilities provided to police, and corruption within the police force as catalysts for volatile internal security.
The Tanzanian police force has been pinpointed among the most corrupt security units in Africa, giving room to international criminals and terrorists to take cover in Tanzania.
Porous territorial borders and lust for money among junior and senior police brass and immigration officers have been a blessing to global terrorists and evil agents to enter this country freely through the power of their pockets.
Politics to some extent, is currently dominating the police force and internal security units, where junior and senior officers are blamed to spend most of their meager resources for training to crash the opposition political rallies through brutal beatings of peaceful demonstrators and the arrest of opposition leaders.
Tanzanians, to a great extent, have been complaining over the brutal and extrajudicial killings of innocent people by the police, while international criminals including drug traffickers, terrorists, human traffickers, and illegal immigrants from Pakistan and Bangladesh were left to operate freely inside this country.
Security analysts fear that politicians from the ruling communist-manifestoed Chama Cha Mapinduzi party are going to issue orders to the police, requiring the force to spend more time dealing with the opposition leaders, a situation that would allow more criminals to take cover in Tanzania.
PROMINENCE OF ARUSHA CITY
Arusha is a safari city for East Africa, located exactly at the center of the African continent between Cape Town in South Africa and Cairo in Egypt. Arusha city is a sophisticated, lively city standing as the leading commercial center in northern Tanzania, shining in tourism, Maasai culture, and flower and coffee cultivation.
The city sits at an elevation of 1,500 meters above sea level, and is the fastest-growing municipality by its prominence as the gateway to East Africa’s most famous wildlife parks, international conferences, and business.
Arusha city is the hub of Tanzania’s tourism, harboring over 90 percent of tourist companies operating in northern Tanzania. The city has been marked to be an East African tourism exhibition center after years of successful annual Karibu Travel and Tourism Fairs (KTTF) which took place there in June every year.
Shopping bazaars, coffee houses (bars), curio shops, hotels, and museums, dominate the city’s prominence. These recreational and educational facilities are flocked with people of different cultures and nationalities.
The Arusha International Conference center (AICC) is the biggest building in Arusha city. This huge triangular building gives Arusha city an international image. It accommodates the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) of which nationals from various nations work in this building with different professions.
Tanzania’s political blue print – the Arusha Declaration – was passed and signed in the house that accommodates the museum in February 1967, and this document added prominence in Arusha city. The document was signed by the First President of Tanzania, Dr. Julius Nyerere.
As the hub of Tanzania’s tourism, Arusha is the center for many wildlife and climbing safaris in the northern circuit. It is the starting point for tours to East Africa’s famous tourist parks of Tarangire, Lake Manyara, Arusha National Park, Mount Kilimanjaro, Ngorongoro Crater, and Serengeti National parks. It is the headquarters of the Tanzania National Parks and a number of international wildlife conservation organizations.
The history of Arusha goes back in last decade of the 10th century when one German, Captain Johannes, built a fort at the foot of Mount Meru to facilitate the German colonization of Tanzania, the then German East Africa. From the little fort (now a natural museum), the town of Arusha grew, first as a trading post for the local people and today as a famous center for various international activities which prompted the former US President Bill Clinton to christen it “the Geneva of Africa” during his brief visit there.
Being the center of various international activities and gatherings, Arusha is the headquarters of the East African Community (EAC).