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Arusha Archdiocese in pain and shock

Arusha, Tanzania: 5/05/2013

A bomb exploded, killing three persons and injuring at least 50 people, twelve of them seriously, amidst the gathering of nearly three thousand people, even as Archbishop Josephat Lebulu blessed the Holy water in the presence of His Excellency Archbishop Francis Padilla, the Nuncio to Tanzania and Fr. Eusebio Manangbao SVD, provincial superior. The blast took place at 11.05 a.m.

The Church authorities along with at least 40 priests and about a hundred nuns with a large crowd had gathered on the occasion of the inauguration of the newly built Church for a new parish in Olasiti, Arusha, Tanzania, run by Divine Word Missionaries.

Divine Word Fathers Peter, Albert and Michael immediately rushed the injured to the hospital who were helped by others in this emergency. Though there was a panic on the site of the scene, people and especially the children screaming and running helter-skelter, a stampede was avoided preventing the tragedy to become worse.

Both the Archbishop and the Nuncio were whisked away immediately by the security personnel inside the newly built Church which was about to be blessed and inaugurated.

The catholic laity along with Fr. Peddy SVD, the Parish priest of Burka had worked hard to build the Church and had begun today ’s function with a few words of welcome to the Bishop, the Nuncio and the rest of the people gathered there. The blast took place outside the church before the inauguration. Eyewitnesses said that the bomb was thrown at the crowd.

The authorities decided to call off the whole inauguration function. Within minutes the police and the investigating personnel arrived on the scene and began their work. Senior police officials and politicians too reached the spot. The police have arrested a suspect from near the scene of the blast.

Issued by Dominic Emmanuel SVD, eyewitness to the blast.