The island of Zanzibar a renowned holiday and tourist destination was rocked by a bomb blast last weekend. The blast happened in Stone Town which is a historical town and UNESCO World heritage site. The explosion took place near a mosque when worshippers were leaving after prayers.
The bomb attack coincided with two important events that were taking place on the islands. A religious meeting of Muslims from across Eastern Africa taking place on Zanzibar’s main island of Unguja and an International Film Festival which was launched over the weekend. Speculation is rife that he attack was intended to target and scare more than just Zanzibaris but also visitors from abroad attending the two events.
Tourism sources and stakeholders are fearful that if such attacks continue, Zanzibar’s tourism industry might be affected just like Kenya’s has been. Major tourist markets such as Britain have issued travel advisories against Kenya due to Insecurity and terrorist threats, which have put the country’s tourism industry in a very bad position. Zanzibar suffered two bomb attacks earlier this year in February, when two IED’s explode near a Catholic church and there has also been periodic trouble on the island when radicals tried to incite Muslims and
Christians, a strategy which has however failed in the face of the vast majority of Zanzibaris being peace loving and tolerant people. But if such attacks continue, tourism which contributes over 75% of the island’s foreign exchange will be affected.
A commentator from neighbouring Kenya said, ‘Terrorism is a global issue. We have been hit by it in Kenya and though it was entirely directed against us Kenyans we still got hammered by the travel advisories from the UK, the US and others. This act in Zanzibar shows we are not alone in fighting this enemy. We need to stand together and take the battle to them. I express my deep sympathy to our Zanzibari brothers and sisters over this incident’.
The motives of the perpetrators are not yet clear to authorities and no one person or group has come forward to take credit for the explosion. Zanzibar security authorities are doing their best to get to the bottom of the matter but speculation of any kind at this time would premature. Additional security personnel were sent to Zanzibar from the mainland to help with the investigations. Hopefully the famous holiday Island and popular Tanzania safari destination will not experience such tragic attacks again