Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Tanzania: 7 July Grenade attack in Arusha linked to a feud within the gemstone industry

7 July Grenade attack in Arusha linked to a feud within the gemstone industry
Menas Associates has learned from one of our sources in Arusha that the 7 July attack on the Verma Restaurant at Arusha’s Gymkhana Club may have been related to a feud within the Tanzanite gemstone industry.

When the initial blast occurred, local news sources sought to identify this attack and an attack on 3 July attack - when an improvised bomb was hurled into the home of a leading Muslim cleric which wounded two people - as part of a series of bombings using home-made explosives. 

The 7 July attack, however, is now thought to be an isolated incident because both the explosives and method used are incongruous with the other attacks. Eyewitnesses confirmed that the attack was conducted by two unknown assailants who threw a canister through the Verna Restaurant’s window as they drove past on a motorcycle. Police officer Issaya Mngulu told the AFP news agency that "We do not know who the attackers are, but we do not suspect any involvement with al-Shabab."

It is now understood that the attack deliberately targeted a group of gemstone dealers including a staff member of Tanzanite One, which is the country’s largest Tanzanite mining company. Following the attack, we have learnt that one of the company’s sales agents has resigned citing threats to her personal security. 

Tanzanite One is understood to have been producing very little since the buy-in by Tanzania’s State Mining Company (STAMICO). Under the conditions of the buy-in, STAMICO promised to address the long-running issue of underground security. These issues have, however, not been tackled and armed clashes with small scale private-sector miners operating in neighbouring concessions have become a regular occurrence.

For more news and expert analysis about East Africa, please see East Africa Politics & Security.

© 2014 Menas Associates

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