Tanzania: Third church in four months razed

Friday, May 20, 2016

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

(Worthy News) - Yet another church in north-west Tanzania was burnt to the ground this month, but its congregation has refused to stop meeting.

According to Barnabas Aid, the church's pastor, Fortunatus Bijura, said anyone who thinks that destroying our church will stop us from praying are wrong.

"We have a big tree near the church and will continue meeting there for prayers," he said.

Although no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, it was the third church to be set afire since January. Since 2013, there have been more than a dozen attacks on area churches as well as attacks upon Christians. For example, in February 2013, a pastor was beheaded in the town of Buseresere in north-west Tanzania. Just last June, a Christian was killed by a mob of Muslims for openly carrying a Bible in Morogoro. And during that same month, a Christian family in Kigoma was attacked in their home while they prayed.

All of the attacks on Christians appear to be linked to two Islamist groups: Uamsho, which wants to create an Islamic state under sharia on Zanzibar and another called "Muslim Renewal" that claims to have links to jihadists in Somalia.

Tanzania has been helping to train the Somalian army in its fight against al-Shabaab jihadists.