A security guard was killed and two other people seriously injured at a private university in north-east Tanzania, close to the Kenyan border, on 2 September when a mob attacked and set fire to the campus. Students at the Lutheran Church-owned Sebastian Kolowa Memorial University in Lushoto escaped through small windows and ran into the nearby forest. Many suffered minor injuries and the effects of smoke inhalation.
A witness told local media that the attackers were overheard discussing how to kill the students. They discussed whether to break in and slaughter them or set the hostel on fire with petrol. She said other students overheard the men saying that the fire would do the job just as well as slaughtering them.
Another witness said she heard men banging on the hostel doors demanding they be opened. The witness said the assailants then broke down her own door, poured petrol over her floor and told her not to leave the room.
The students escaped after smelling petrol fumes and seeing flames. The attackers left after the fire started.
The attack, only weeks after the start of the new term, coincides with the arrival of the first non-local students at Garissa University in neighbouring Kenya following the massacre there of 147 mostly Christian students by the Islamist Al-Shabaab group in April 2015.
A series of Inter Government Authority of Development (IGAD) conferences held in Tanzania, Kenya and other eastern African countries over the last few weeks has focused on developing a regional strategy to prevent violent extremism in the region. At the most recent IGAD meeting in Khartoum, a representative from the UNDP, which supports the initiative, said: “It is necessary to address the root causes of violent extremism such as unemployment and poverty… However, I would like to point out that poverty alone does not cause a person to become a violent extremist, but rather the instability that allows and nurtures this tendency”.