DAR ES SALAM, TANZANIA - Tanzania’s government says is teaming up with Mozambique to launch a joint operation against violent attacks by Islamist militants along their shared border. But some opposition parties and rights groups are raising concerns about how the Tanzanian government plans to tackle the threat.
Several recent attacks blamed on Islamist extremists have targeted the border village of Ktaya in Tanzania’s Mtwara region.
Police say more than 175 houses were set on fire and some people were killed by assailants, who, authorities say, fled into neighboring Mozambique.
Tanzania has already increased security along the border and it is now joining forces with Mozambique to contain what it calls terrorists.
Simon Sirro, Tanzania’s police commander, says there will be a joint operation because the attackers come from Mozambique and they have much information to make sure that we catch those terrorists. Sirro adds that the big thing that we ask Tanzanians especially for is those who live in the neighboring villages to make sure they give us information. He also says there are many things that they have agreed that he can’t say, but all is to help to catch those criminals.
But Tanzanian opposition politicians worry about how the government will go about handling the threat. Boniface Jacob is a former Dar es Salaam mayor and member of the opposition Chadema party.
He says maybe the governments have taken and are still taking measures to fight terrorists but he is dissatisfied with the level of sharing of information, because it’s everything. He cites that, contrary to other countries, Tanzania has been secretive regarding terrorism, something that limits public information on the matter.
Video has circulated recently on social media showing Ktaya villagers being killed by the alleged terrorists, who the government believes are aligned with the militant group Islamic State.
Human rights groups say that the government should be honest in providing information related to the attacks. Kumbusho Dawson is a rights activist.
He says Tanzania police have been quiet. Information came out on social media but police remained quiet. The United States embassy issued a travel warning advising Americans about the threat in the south. Later police spoke out. He adds that he thinks police should provide more information to the public about the terrorist acts taking place.
Some citizens say it’s scary hearing about the attacks but they have hope that a government effort that works with local residents will deter terrorism.
Saidi Mussa, a Dar es Salaam resident, says the video that was circulating on social media was not taken by the government. It’s the citizens who took and share them. He adds that they are the ones that have the primary information, therefore the government has to make sure that they work together with the citizens.
Authorities say the attacks started in October, when insurgents beheaded more than 20 resident of Ktaya.
The government insists that it will succeed in its mission because it understands the motives of the insurgents.