Rufiji. The latest round of killings and abductions in Coast Region have added to the long list of controversies surrounding the motive and faces behind mysterious attacks.
Fresh security concerns surfaced in the region this week following the cold blood murder of a militiaman, Erick Mwarabu, a resident of Kifuru in the Kazamoyo division.
The 37-year-old was shot dead by unknown assailants who broke into his house at around 3 am on Tuesday, ransacked his house before they found him under the bed where he was hiding, and pulled the trigger.
While such mysterious attacks in Mkuranga, Rufiji, Ikwiriri and Kibiti districts have been reported since early last year, the situation took a new twist this week.
What changed this time round is the timing by the assailants, who normally spread their attacks over up to a month, but in the latest spate carried out their ‘mission’ in a matter of days.
This week alone, they perpetuated four attacks. The first killing took place just hours before the new Inspector General of Police (IGP) Simon Sirro embarked on his maiden tour of the area, one of the very things he had to do as the country’s top cop.
In the murder-ridden area, the IGP held closed door talks with local elders in Ikwiriri to discuss ways of cooperating in the latest efforts to arrest the wave of attacks, which have so far claimed 33 lives, including 11 policemen. Home Affairs deputy minister Hamad Masauni, who was also in attendance, hailed the meeting as fruitful, and expressed hope that a way could have been found to improve the security situation.
“I have come here a number of times, but I have not seen such a response and cooperation like the one that we have received today (Tuesday),” Mr Masauni told reporters after the meeting. But a day later, it was back to wailing in the area. On Wednesday, another local militia member was attacked in broad daylight as he was working on his farm with his two sons in Ikwiriri District.
The bullet went through the back of 33-year-old Nurdin Kisinga’s head in a shock attack, before the attackers disappeared into thin air.
Luckily, his sons and neighbour sprung into action to help him. They rushed him to Michukwi hospital, from where he was later transferred to Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) for treatment.
A few hours later, on Thursday, another attack was reported, this time round the victim was Ikwiriri Kati Village chairman (CUF), who was abducted by unidentified men, who according to Coast Regional Police Commander Onesmo Lyanga broke into his house at about 2 am.
That became the first abduction incident in the wave of the attacks.
On Friday morning, new reports from Kibiti District, confirmed by Mr Lyanga, had it that two Nyamisati villagers, including a CUF local leader, Ms Moshi Machela, were shot and taken away by unknown gunmen in an overnight attack.
Chairman of CUF Governing Council, Mr Julius Mtatiro, raised concerns over the abductions.
He also claimed that up to 20 CUF local leaders in the area had been arrested and released without any charges by the police over the on-going attacks, which have been largely targeting CCM local leaders.
Mr Mtatiro’s concerns are echoed by Nyamisati residents who witnessed the abduction of Ms Machela and other two individuals.
Accoding to eyewitness reports, armed men arrived in a Land Rover and shot Ms Machela’s partner, Yahya Makame, before dragging Ms Machela out, accusing the duo of sheltering the unknown attackers.
The third victim, Omar Mtambo’s wife, told this paper that the armed men arrived at their house just after midnight and knifed her husband several times, asking him why he owned a gun before shooting him three times and dragging him to an unknown destination.
Efforts to reach Mr Lyanga for his response on the CUF accusations could not bear fruit as his phone went unanswered by the time we went to press last night.