Nairobi, Kenya | AFP | Gunmen have ambushed and killed eight police officers in eastern Tanzania, the presidency said Friday, the latest in a string of killings targeting politicians and security officers in the country.
“President John Pombe Magufuli is surprised and very sorry to learn of the news of the death of eight police officers killed last night by armed people,” Tanzania’s presidency said in a statement.
The policemen came under attack in their vehicle on Thursday in the eastern region of Kibiti as they returned from patrol, and their assailants fled into a nearby forest, the statement said.
Head of police investigations Nsato Mssanzya said one officer was wounded in the assault, which he blamed on “banditry”.
Four people suspected of being involved in the attack were killed in a shootout with security forces later that night, he said.
“Enough is enough. We have just launched a special operation to get our hands on the culprits,” Mssanzya said.
The dead officers were part of a unit deployed to pacify the region south of Tanzania’s largest city Dar Es Salaam.
Local authorities say nine officials belonging to Magufuli’s ruling Chama cha Mapinduzi (CCM) have been killed in the coastal districts of Kibiti and Rufiji since last October.
A separate attack killed three police officers in the area last month.
The killings, and uncertainty over the motive, have spread fear throughout local government in the region.
While the assailants have not been identified, they typically use motorcycle taxis to escape after assassinations and steal weapons from police officers’ bodies.
The spate of police killings is rare in the east African nation and Magufuli condemned the violence, calling in the statement for “cooperation of all Tanzanians to stop these acts.”