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One killed, several wounded in Zanzibar bombing

14 june 2014, 12:00
0
Riot policemen, Zanzibar. ©Reuters/Goran Tomasevic
Riot policemen, Zanzibar. ©Reuters/Goran Tomasevic

One person was killed and several others were wounded in a bomb attack near a mosque on Tanzania's Indian Ocean island of Zanzibar, AFP reports according to police.

Police said the bomb went off in the Daranjani commercial district of Stone Town, the UNESCO-listed historical centre of the semi-autonomous Tanzanian archipelago, at around 8:15 pm (1715 GMT).

"We are investigating to find out the type of explosive, the criminals and motive. We ask people to help provide information," senior police official Mkadam Khamis told AFP.

Witnesses said the casualties included worshippers who were coming out of evening prayers from a nearby mosque. The island is also currently hosting a religious gathering of Muslims from across the east Africa region.

"We ask people not to panic, as the security forces are on full alert," the police official said.

The attack coincided with the opening of the Zanzibar International Film Festival, which has drawn a number of international visitors, and bars and restaurants have also been packed with people watching World Cup matches.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack.

Zanzibar has been the scene of sectarian and political tensions in recent years, although the island has been generally quiet for several months.

In February two improvised bombs exploded at Stone Town's Anglican cathedral and a seafront bar popular with tourists, without causing any casualties.

Last year suspected Islamist attackers hurled acid into the faces of two British teenage girls as they strolled through Stone Town, as Zanzibar's Muslim majority were preparing to celebrate the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Some have blamed the hardline Islamic group Uamsho, Swahili for "The Awakening", a minority group but believed to be growing in influence, especially among disaffected and jobless youth.

While the group denies involvement in any of the attacks, they have widely succeeded in funnelling cultural and political tensions into support for radical Islam.

There have also been incidents of acid attacks and shootings targeting religious leaders, both Christian and Muslim.

There have also been wider tensions surrounding this year's 50th anniversary of Zanzibar's union with mainland Tanzania, with some opposition political parties wanting to break ties and return to independence.

The unrest had sparked fears of a tourist exodus from Zanzibar, which is famed for its pristine white-sand beaches and is heavily reliant on tourism.


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