Police said yesterday they would launch immediate investigations into threats by a suspected terrorist group to blow up a Dar es Salaam church.
Director of Criminal Investigations Robert Manumba made remarks to that effect in a telephone interview with this paper, which had shortly earlier received a copy of a three-page written statement apparently prepared and circulated by a suspected terrorist group giving Tanga as its base.
The group, which identified itself as ‘Al-Shabaab Tanzania’, threatened to attack Efatha Life Ministry structures at Mwenge “any time from now”.
“And we will make sure that EFATHA buildings are reduced to a playing ground...with nothing on it,” said the statement, which bore the signature of a “representative” who sought strict anonymity.
The group warned the church’s faithful to spare their lives by not attending prayers or conducting any other activities, including banking, in the said compound.
It associated its plans with what it called “the EFATHA management’s long-running behaviour of taking the law in their hands, harassing innocent people without justifiable reasons”.
DCI Manumba told The Guardian that the bomb attack reports were news to him, adding: “We are also not aware of the existence of such a group…but we will use the information you are giving me as the basis for launching police investigations.”
He admitted, though, that police were aware of the existence of “a prolonged tug of war” between Efatha Life Ministry and an investor over the ownership of the plot where the church stands “but we are not certain whether there is any link between that dispute and the attack threat”.
Efforts to contact Efatha leader Josephat Mwingira for comment on the issue failed yesterday. But a person who identified herself as Col (rtd) Mama Kambo and said she was the chairperson of the church’s security committee, said they had not heard of the bomb attack threat.
On April 9 this year, police detained two security guards and 51 other people said to be Efatha Life Ministry faithful for allegedly invading the Mwenge premises and demolishing structures belonging to Afro-Plus Industries Company just next door.
Kinondoni Regional Police Commander Charles Kenyela said the arrest had to do with a land dispute between the company and a bank run by the church.