By Joseph DeCaro, BosNewsLife International Correspondent
DODOMA, TANZANIA (BosNewsLife)– Several Christians in Tanzania were struggling to find a place to worship Sunday, November 4, after Islamic militants attacked Christians, torched at least three churches and damaged other Christian properties in the East African country’s largest city, officials said.
Police said they have detained 122 followers of the Islamist separatist group ‘Association for Islamic Mobilization and Propagation’ (UAMSHO) who were allegedly involved in the riots in Dar es Salaam.
Amid the October 12 clashes in the Mbagala suburbs of Dar es Salaam, which also involved the smashing of shop windows, the UAMSHO flag was raised over the Evangelical Assemblies of God-Tanzania Church, witnesses said.
There were no immediate reports of injuries in what remains a volatile situation.
Christians said the violence was ignited by a October 10 incident in which a Christian boy was allegedly “duped into desecrating” the Koran, deemed a holy book by Muslims. After the incident was reported to a local mosque, a Muslim mob threatened to kill the boy.
When police took the boy into protective custody, the mob reportedly stormed the station, demanding he be handed over for punishment. The name of the boy was not immediately identified.
The UAMSHO reportedly used the incident to increase tensions as part of its campaign to make the country’s semi-autonomous archipelago of Zanzibar independent of mainland Tanzania.
Violence against Christians is increasing in both the mainland and especially in Zanzibar, which is mostly Muslim, Christians said.
“The churches are in great fear from the UAMSHO separatist Islamist group, fearing riots can erupt again,” advocacy group Barnabas Fund quoted a local pastor as saying, apparently speaking on condition of anonymity amid security concerns.
Earlier this year, UAMSHO, which wants Zanzibar to become independent of mainland Tanzania, also attacked local churches and other Christian properties.