Dar es Salaam/Rufiji. People queued yesterday at Kurasini to pay their last respects to eight police officers who were killed by unidentified gangsters in a Thursday night ambush in Kibiti District, Coast Region.
Sorrow engulfed the Kurasini Police Barracks where the fallen policemen’s coffins were lined up. Fellow police officers, relatives and other people wept uncontrollably.
Home Affairs minister Mwigulu Nchemba vowed that the government would pursue the assailants and make them pay for their crimes.
“If they did it to test us, to see how we would react, then they should know that we will be going after them in full force. We can’t let lawlessness and fear reign.” He also told the Kibiti residents to support the government because it was impossible any of the criminals not to be known to them.
“It is impossible for a stranger to travel all the way from Kagera to Kibiti, Kigoma to Rufiji or Longido to Mkuranga and start killing village leaders without the help of locals,” he said.
Some 11 local government leaders have been shot dead recently by people riding on motorcycles and who did not steal anything from those targeted. Two weeks ago police shot dead three people dressed as women when they defied orders to stop at a roadblock in Lindi. They were riding on a motorcycle.
According to Mr Nchemba, when a gang shot at forest workers last month, the locals simply stole sacks of charcoal and let the killers escape.
He ordered his subordinates to fast-track the payment to wounded officers and the families of the deceased to avoid unnecessary inconveniences.
The Inspector General of Police Ernest Mangu also called on Mkuranga, Kibiti and Rufiji residents to furnish police with information on the identities and whereabouts of the assailants.
“If they don’t cooperate we’ll use force to get vital information and catch the killers before they cause more harm,” he warned.
Meanwhile, on Friday night three-machete wielding people raided Kitembo village executive Abdallah Mchenga’s home, injuring his son, Saidi. Mr Mchenga was not home at that time and the raiders demanded to be shown where he was.
After realising that he was not at home, they set upon his son and then left.