Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete has suggested possible terror links to last month’s attack on police stations and exchange of gunfire between security officers and armed men in the port city of Tanga.
This comes after the police had down-played the incident which left one military officer dead and five others seriously injured in what was believed to be an organised terrorist operation. Tanga regional police chief, Fresser Kashai, said the incident was an ordinary banditry.
But President Kikwete’s comments on the incident in his end-month address to the nation have become the first statement by a top government officials on possible terrorist links to the attack which sent the nation into a panic last month.
An 11-minute video footage circulating on social media depicted a man calling himself Kaisy bin Abdullah warning the authorities of further attacks on prisons to free people who were ‘inappropriately jailed.’
The Inspector General of Police, Ernest Mangu, told The EastAfrican that they have not established whether the man in the clip has any association with terror groups but added that security forces were investigating the incident.
Despite saying that the incidents had ‘banditry characteristics and terrorist inclination,’ the President appealed for calm, saying that security organs were doing everything possible to bring those who have been implicated to justice.
In the last two months, incidences of people storming police stations and confronting cops on patrol have been reported at Newala southern Tanzania in natural gas-rich region of Mtwara and Bukombe in the gold-rich region of Geita where invaders got away with 18 guns.
President Kikwete said all the 18 guns seized in Bukombe have been recovered and 10 people booked over the incident.
“Concerning the Tanga incident, one gun out of two has been recovered and seven culprits have been arrested. Four of them are those who were hiding in Kiomoni caves (in Tanga suburbs)…already four of those who allegedly participated in Ikwiriri incident have been arrested,” he said.
Other incidents were reported in Tanga, north-eastern Tanzania and Songea in the south.
Overwhelmed police had at one point sought help from the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) which deployed commandoes.
Speaking to The EastAfrican, the Inspector General of Police maintained that no terror link to the incidents had yet been established and and that some of the culprits nabbed appear not to have any foreign connection.
“We have booked some of the culprits and there is no any foreign connection established. All of them are Tanzanian nationals and our investigation sees no foreign connection,” he said.