A Catholic Church in one of Tanzania’s coastal regions has been broken into and four priests’ robes set on fire. The arsonists also left a note behind, warning that one day they would return to kill 12 people.
The incident, which took place Sunday evening 30 April, was first noticed by the church treasurer, Stiga Elias who lives near the church in the Kibiti parish, approximately 135km south of the capital Dar Es Salaam.
Upon arrival the next morning, Joseph Mailu, the head of the church, found the church had been broken into, with some of the interior burned. The perpetrators also left a piece of paper saying “We are cautioning you. Our two brothers have been killed last Saturday, now we have started our revenge. We are 12, we have not failed”.
The situation has been tense in the area in recent weeks, after police killed at least two people after a failed attempt to arrest them for suspected criminal activities, including murder. Locals think the attack on the church was some sort of ‘revenge’ attack for their deaths.
In a response, Coast Regional Police Commander Onesimus Lyanga told World Watch Monitor that they are investigating the incident and are monitoring the situation closely. So far no arrests have been made.
Earlier this year World Watch Monitor reported on a spate of attacks on churches near Lake Victoria, in the north of the country, which seemed to be connected to the growing influence of political Islam in that part of the country. The coastal region, an area with a majority Muslim population, has also witnessed a number of church attacks. That was however between 2012 and 2015 and this is the first incident since then.
Tanzania is 33rd on the World Watch List of the 50 countries in which it is most difficult to live as a Christian.