Those of you who keep one eye on events in Northern Tanzania will be aware that there have been a few worrying incidents over the past couple of years.
These ‘events’ – by which we mean bomb attacks – are sporadic, with four incidents over the past 18 months or so. And at the moment, we believe that Arusha is still OK to visit and we are still booking and sending people up Kilimanjaro/on safari; as, indeed, is every other trekking company. Furthermore, the Foreign Office in the UK – who, as you may be aware, are the most ‘pessimistic’ of bodies and always err very much on the side of caution – do not advise against travel in Tanzania. Indeed, it’s worth quoting from their current advice:
“Still current at: 16 July 2014
Updated: 8 July 2014
Latest update: Terrorism section – small scale attacks in Arusha in 2014
Although most visits to Tanzania are trouble-free, violent and armed crime is increasing. Take sensible precautions to protect yourself and your belongings.
There is an underlying threat from terrorism.
Around 75,000 British nationals visit Tanzania every year. Most visits are trouble-free.
Take out comprehensive travel and medical insurance before you travel.”
For once we agree with the Foreign Office on this matter and think their advice is sound and sensible.
So what exactly were these bomb attacks in Arusha? Well the first of the current spate of attacks took place on May 5 last year when a church congregation was attacked as they attended Sunday communion. One of the most serious attacks, three people were killed on the spot and a number were injured. The next attack took place on June 15th, just over a month later, when a political rally was attacked by terrorists with grenades, leaving another four killed.
Following a period of relative calm, there have been a couple of incidents recently that have got people worried. Firstly, a bomb was thrown at a Muslim cleric, leaving two wounded. And then on the 13th of this month, an ‘improvised explosive device’ (IED) was thrown into an Indian restaurant. Eight people were injured. The most worrying aspect about this latest incident, at least from a tourist point of view, was that the restaurant was popular with foreigners and even the occasional holidaymaker – suggesting, perhaps, a change of target.
Nobody knows whether these attacks are all linked or the motives behind them; though in the last attack two people were quickly arrested and are currently helping people with their enquiries. We can only hope that the information they provide can shed some light onto all the attacks and help to bring about their end.
In the meantime, we will of course report on any developments and should the situation worsen we’ll be sure to let you know.