Tanzanian police have been put on high alert after concerns were raised that youth were travelling to northern Mozambique to join the Islamic militants there.
Mozambique has been grappling with terror attacks on civilians by the militia group, which spiralled in Cabo Delgado Province last October. About 150 people have been killed since then.
Further reports indicate that the Mocimboa da Praia attackers forced local people to observe Sharia law and banned consumption of alcohol.
Tanzanian Inspector General of Police Simon Sirro said the people attacking civilians in northern Mozambique are from Tanzania, and that they pose a security threat to the country if they return.
High security alert
The IGP said that although Tanzania is prepared to deal with any threats, it should also provide support to Mozambique.
He further called on the police to maintain a high security alert in case the terrorists come back.
“Police officers represent the government, and the attackers think they have to fight the government by attacking the police force. Tanzania is in a good position to fight these threats, but we need to help our neighbours who have serious problems,” Mr Sirro said.
Sources told The EastAfrican that a security operation which was launched three years ago to flush out suspected terrorist elements in Kibiti area on Tanzania’s southern coast, had led to some of the ringleaders fleeing to the southern town of Mtwara, which borders Mozambique.
Tanzanian opposition leaders claimed that more than 380 Tanzanians disappeared during the operation, and asked parliament to conduct an independent investigation into the claims.
Six months ago Tanzanian and Mozambican police signed a security agreement for the exchange of intelligence. Mozambique President Felipe Nyusi visited Tanzania last December for talks with President John Magufuli.
The number of fighters going to Mozambique remains unclear, but Tanzanian police said that they had arrested at least 60 young people trying to cross over to Mozambique in January.
Reports from Mozambique say the terrorists are foreign nationals from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Somalia as well as the Middle East Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran.
However, local people in areas where attacks have taken place have repeatedly said that the attackers were communicating in Kiswahili.
Mtwara Regional Commissioner Gelasius Byakanwa said that his office did not have evidence implicating Tanzanians. He added that those claiming that Tanzanians were taking part in the attacks were basing their evidence on the attackers speaking Kiswahili.
Mr Byakanwa said it was hard to determine exactly which country the attackers come from as people sharing the border speak a common language.