Tanzanian gunman was 'calm, hardworking', shocked neighbours say

Thursday August 26 2021
Dar es Salaam gunman

The unidentified gunman who was killed by police officers in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on August 25, 2021 while on a shooting spree along the Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road. PHOTO | THE CITIZEN | NMG


The lone gunman who killed four people before police shot him dead in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, on Wednesday may have been radicalised only recently, neighbours who knew him say.

As Dar residents grapple with the incident that occurred on Ali Hassan Mwinyi Road, one of the more secure parts of the city, more details are beginning to emerge about the shooter, 29-year old Hamza Hassan Mohamed.

According to friends, he successfully managed to hide his sinister side from even those who were close to him.

In Dar, he lived with his family in Upanga, near the Fire Brigade area. Here, his neighbours, who had known him only as a small-scale miner in Mbeya, are shaken by yesterday’s events.

He lived with his mother and other family members in a flat, police sources said.

One of their neighbours describes Mohamed as a calm and hard-working person, saying they had no idea what really became of him.


“He was born and raised in this neighbourhood and was never involved in any incidences but what happened today was a complete shock,” said one of the neighbours.

The whole area has been placed under tight security as police continue to comb through the home for clues.

No criminal record

On paper, nothing appears amiss. Mohamed has no past criminal record. To most in this area and those who were acquainted with him, he was known only as an industrious businessman.

But the incident has forced the police to look into his past and any known associates.

On Wednesday evening, officers could be seen questioning his close family members as they try to understand what his motives were. They also took some of his belongings, including a motorbike.

The shooter chose one of Dar’s most secure areas to carry out his heinous crime, a locale known for hosting various diplomatic missions, including the Kenya High Commission, the French, Russian and Japanese embassies, as well as regional banking corporations.

Liberatus Sabas, the Tanzanian Police commissioner of operations and training, told the media the man had killed three police officers and a private security guard and injured six more people before he was felled by police bullets in front of the French Embassy.

Moments before the bullets took him down, he could be seen punching the air and thumping his chest. Once down, police rained more bullets into his body before officers moved in to take away one of the rifles he was holding.

Mozambique connection?

While saying that the motives of the attacker are still unknown, Sabas did not rule out connections to the insurgency in Mozambique.

Tanzania’s southern neighbour has been battling terrorists calling themselves Al-Shabaab (not related to the Somalia-based militant group by the same name).

Northern Mozambique is seen as the latest haven for terror merchants from Kenya and Tanzania. If linked, it would be the first time a terrorist has brought terror to the streets of Tanzania in a long time.

President Samia Suluhu issued a statement yesterday reassuring Tanzanians of their safety and mourning those killed.

“I condole with the police force and families of the three police officers as well as that of the private security guard from the SGA company who lost their lives after an armed man attacked them near Salenda, Dar es Salaam,” she said.

“That man has now been neutralised and everything is back to normal. I direct the police to thoroughly investigate the motive behind this incident.”

Lone shooter

In videos shared by witnesses, the man appeared to be acting alone, carrying two semi-automatic rifles and shooting at police officers inside the French diplomatic premises.

The man was carrying two rifles, one slung over his shoulder, as he pointed the other at frightened members of the public who were at his mercy.

Road users and residents in the usually calm Oyster Bay/Upanga area in Dar es Salaam were forced to abandon their cars and run for dear life.

Videos recorded by people in nearby buildings showed him pointing his gun at people while uttering inaudible slogans.

Mohamed wore a grey checked shirt, jungle green trousers and a white skullcap. Police shot him in front of the French Embassy gate although it was unclear initially whether he was targeting the diplomatic installation.

The Selanda Bridge area that borders Upanga and Oyster Bay is surrounded by residents of foreign missions such as the French Embassy, Japanese Embassy, Kenya’s High Commission, Russian Embassy and financial institutions such as Stanbic Bank and KCB Bank.

Additional reporting by Aggrey Mutambo