Tanzania: Muslim Community Lives in Fear After Attack

We rarely go to the mosque for prayers. We are now feeling exhausted and very vulnerable."

These are words from members of Utemini Ibanda Mosque, Mkolani-Mwanza who, despite the fact that other muslims have been fasting on this holly month of Ramadhan for the past few weeks, they claim to be insecure.

Some of them are not engaging in development activities for efar of being attacked and the security is tense despite the government's assurance that it has beefed up security.

Utemini Ibanda Mosque was attacked by unknown people last month.

They killed about three people, including the Imam of the mosque, Feruz Ishmael, during the May 18 attack.

There were nasty scenes in Ibanda Utemini Mosque when Rahman and his fellow muslims were attacked at around nine o'clock by people who were masked.

They told the worshippers to lie on the floor while letting children to run away.

The bandits had ordered all children to get out of the mosque through the door which is commonly used by women.

"Questions and instructions were given by a person who, by virtue of the voice, was believed to be a woman. She ordered 'Imam' to be the first one to be killed," said Rizwan Abdallah, one of the survivors.

Prayers routine changed

Speaking to The Citizen, the Imam, Omari Nyamega said the situation is still tense in the area.

Her said they don't conduct prayers at night for fear of being attacked again.

"We now conduct two prayer sessions instead of five as was the case before the attack. We pray at 2pm and 7pm. We have been forced tom cancel other sessions for fear of more attacks," said Mr Nyamega.

"When you pray, you assume you are in a holy place, but due to last month's incident, we fail to concentrate on prayers," he said.

"When you see someone passing by hear the voice near the mosque you become anxious, recalling what happened last month," he said.

He said asked relevant authorities to beef up security at the mosque, especially during the fasting month of Ramadan, to enable them conduct prayer sessions instead remaining at their homes.

For his part, chairman of the street Jukael Kiula said the idea of setting up a police station near the mosque could ease tension.

"We are still striving to come to terms with what happened in our mosque last month. We have asked relevant authorities to set up a police station here but they have not honoured our request so far," he said.

Mwanza Regional Commissioner John Mongella admitted to have heard of the victims' concerns. Mr Mongella said plans were on for the government to strengthen security in the region.

"Security has been strengthened. As of now, I can't reveal the measures we intend to take to protect worshippers from attacks because we are still working on them," he said.

Ms Zena Ishmael, the widow whose husband was killed during the Ibanda Mosque attacks, says she is living in fear.

She has three children- Mboni Mbwana (15) who is in Form One, Abdul Mbwana ( 7) and Najma Mbwana ( 1).

Mwanza police managed to arrest some suspects but all is not well in Ibada Village.

A few weeks ago, there was fierce exchange of gun shots between police and gangsters in Ibanda where one police officer was injured.

Luckily enough, the law enforcers managed to kill one of the most notorious gangsters , Khamis Katembo.

Ibanda Mosque was attacked just a few days after seven people from the same family in Sengerema District, Mwanza Region, were killed by unknown people.

Efforts to contact relevant authorities for more details on the Sengerema case were not fruitful yesterday.

A few days after the Mkolani attack, another terrible incident occurred in Mwanza as Musa Nyinzi, a village executive officer at Bulale, Buhongwa Ward, was gunned down by unknown gangsters.

Ismael Abeid ,13, is one of the survivors of the mosque attack,.

He was lucky to pass through the left door which is special for women as he was miraculously unidentified as a child.

Although he sustained wounds on his ear, he still believes it was a miracle from God who arranged for his survival.

The widowed women said, their husbands had a big role in the family as he provided the with everything. Security has been tense in the country recently as thugs had killed people in Tanga, Morogoro and Mara Regions. However, in regard to this, the fifth phase government of his Excellency John Magufuli, and other security agencies have been urged to amend the laws and add more techniques to ameliorate the situation.

Source: The Citizen