Dar es Salaam - The police yesterday said they had gunned down two suspects linked with the recent brutal killings in Tanga and Mwanza regions.
The suspects, described by Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone Commander Simon Sirro as "most wanted terror suspects", were shot dead in two separate incidents in Dar es Salaam.
One of the felled suspects, Mohammad Abdallah, was being sought in connection with the killing of 11 people last month in Tanga Region, including the beheading of eight villagers.
The other suspect identified as Salum Said, alias Tall, alias Pius, 30, was linked to the cold-blooded killing of three people in a Mwanza mosque, also last month, in what was said to be "terrorist-style attack."
Addressing a press conference, Mr Sirro said the suspected criminals were shot dead on Saturday and yesterday.
"The two suspects were on the run after committing the heinous crimes in Tanga and Mwanza. They took refuge in Dar es Salaam but we managed to smoke them out from their hideouts following a tip-off from members of the public," he said.
The first to be killed on Saturday was Abdallah, who was gunned down during a confrontation at his hideout in Kimara. Mr Sirro said a woman suspect led the police to his hideout.
The police chief said Abdallah was the mastermind of the string of attacks in Tanga Region in recent months. He was directly linked to the Kibatini murders during which eight men, including a village chairman, were rounded up and herded to a spot where they were beheaded.
On the fateful night, the attackers accused the eight victims of facilitating the arrest of unknown youths who had been stopped in the village from proceeding to the nearby forests believed to harbour criminals.
He is also said to have the leader of the group that raided a supermarket in Tanga and shot dead three shoppers at point blank range.
"This Abdallah is the hooded man shown in the past in an online video clip taunting the President and the Police Force. He was bragging of how police were ill equipped and unable to arrest him and his group," said Mr Sirro.
He was said to be the only surviving member of the gang police said was operating along the coastline and were behind some of the incidents of barbaric attacks targeted at not only the civilians but also the police. Scores of officers have died in attacks in police stations in the Coast Region and Dar es Salaam.
A pistol, 19 rounds of ammuniation and a grenade were recovered from Abdallah after he was killed. He was shot as he escaped from the house that had been surrounded by the police. Mr Sirro showed reporters a hand grenade the suspect threw at them in his bid to escape.
Mr Sirro added that Said, ambushed at his hideout in Buguruni. The suspect has been on the run since mounting the attack at Masjid Rahmani mosque in Mwanza.
During the incident, around 15 masked assailants stormed the mosque and used improvised explosives, machetes and axes against worshipers.
The victims included the imam of the mosque, Ferouz Ismail Elias. Several other worshippers sustained injuries.
Witnesses said the attackers asked worshipers why they were praying while "our comrades are in prison" before attacking them.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred days after a video emerged of masked people alleging they were the East African branch of the Islamic State (Isis/Daesh) group. The people claimed they were in Tanzania's coastal region of Tanga.
Yesterday Mr Sirro said the suspect escaped to Dar es Salaam immediately after mounting the attack. His accomplices are still at large.
A police operation soon after the mosque attack led to the shooting to death of three suspects found hiding in caves in the outskirts of Mwanza on June 5. Those killed were however not directly linked to the mosque killing.
Mr Sirro noted that Salum lived in Kiseke in Mwanza and is aged 30. He was shot dead in the morning as he tried to evade arrest. He also threw a hand grenade at the police who however escaped unhurt. "We were told that he was staying and hiding in Buguruni and today laid ambush on him. We're thankful to all members of the public who volunteered information leading to the discovery of these suspects."
Source: The Citizen