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Churches and tourist restaurant bombed in Zanzibar

25 February 2014 | by Abigail Frymann Rouch

Bombs have been detonated near a cathedral, a church and a popular tourist restaurant on the Tanzanian island of Zanzibar.

Two bombs were detonated at the main entrance of Christ Church Anglican Cathedral and the Former Slave Market in the centre of Stone Town, the capital of the Muslim-majority island at around 1pm yesterday.

Another bomb exploded at Mercury's, a restaurant named after Freddie Mercury, the late lead singer of the rock group Queen, who was born in Zanzibar.

A police spokesman Mohammed Mhina said yesterday: “There were two explosions which occurred at around 1pm this afternoon. The explosions were caused by makeshift bombs.”

However, eyewitnesses told the charity Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) that at the cathedral two bombs were detonated. They said the bombs consisted of dynamite and were detonated remotely.

CSW Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas said that the use of a remote device during Monday's bombing suggested “that perpetrators of religious violence are attaining new levels of sophistication and planning”.

In addition, on Sunday a homemade bomb was detonated near an Assemblies of God church. According to CSW, a bomb reportedly containing ball bearings and chemicals was detonated as the church service was coming to a close, shaking the building and causing alarm amongst the congregation. I

The bomb attacks come as Tanzania's political parties prepare for elections. A Zanzibari separatist group Uamsho, which is thought to be behind an upsurge in anti-Christian violence, is calling for Zanzibar to become an independent nation.



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