In the early hours of Thursday, October 9, unknown attackers used a machete to kill a Christian man and injured another in Bukoba, in northwest Tanzania, according to sources.
The two men, Dioniz Ng’wandu, 31, a secondary school teacher, and a man known only as Temistores, 25, were attending an early morning church prayer meeting at the Busimbe Parish of the Pentecostal Assemblies of God in Bukoba, with their pastor Faustine Joseph and a fourth unnamed man.
About 30 minutes after Pastor Joseph and the fourth man left the prayer meeting, unidentified attackers entered the church and killed Ng’wandu, and seriously injured Temistores’ left foot; he was admitted to the Kagera Regional Hospital.
Temistores said he remembers nothing about the assault apart from the masked attackers commanding him not to move, according to World Watch Monitor sources. Nothing else in the church was stolen or destroyed during the attack. Local sources say the attackers had easy access to the church because it is still under construction and it has no windows or doors.
Joseph told sources that church members have been receiving threats recently from Muslim expatriates in Bukoba who have vowed to decrease the number of Christians in the area. Bukoba is reportedly a Muslim-dominated town of about 100,000 situated on the shore of Lake Victoria bordering Kigoma, which is also known locally as a center for Islamist extremism.
Ng’wandu was buried at his home in Kilimahewa, Mwana on Oct. 12. He leaves behind his wife, Faith, and two children, Michael, 4, and John, 2.
“The investigation is ongoing,” said Kagera Chief of Police George Mayunga according to Agence Presse Africaine (APA). “We’ve already arrested a suspect.”
The Media Project, a non-profit organization that works globally with local journalists, reported that Ng’wandu was murdered at the altar of the church, and that thirty-five area pastors have asked the government to investigate the murder.
“Attacks against Christians are increasing in Tanzania despite the efforts of the government to control them,” reported The Media Project. “Some religious leaders and lay Christians have been killed, while others have been attacked by extremist Muslims wielding acid. Some of the perpetrators have been arrested and charged, yet their cases continue in courts.”
The non-profit group reports that no serious media coverage had been given to this latest attack in Tanzania due to censorship.
Tanzania, once celebrated as a role model for peace in Africa, is no longer considered “safe” after increases in inter-faith violence and little evidence thus far of perpetrators being brought to justice.
Tanzania was formed in 1964 out of the union of mainland Tanganyika and the coastal archipelago of Zanzibar. According to statistical estimates, 41.8 million of Tanzanians live on the mainland and 1.2 million live in Zanzibar.
On the mainland, an estimated 54 percent of the population is Christian, 31 percent Muslim and 13 percent ethno-religionist. There are also small numbers of Hindus, Buddhists, and other faiths. However, in the Zanzibar archipelago, 97 percent of the population is Muslim.
Source: World Watch Monitor
Father, we lift before Your tender care Faith and her small children as they mourn the loss of their husband and father. Meet their daily needs for food and shelter, comfort and strength. We pray Your protection over the believers in Bukoba; that You would quell their fears and strengthen them with courage to face each day, whatever might come their way. We pray that You will equip them with wisdom and grace to respond to this persecution in ways that honor You. We pray for justice to be accomplished, and that peace might reign. And we pray that many will turn their hearts from the darkness of sin to the light of Christ. In the name of Jesus, who keeps us in perfect peace, Amen.