Police launch manhunt deep into caves for machete killers

02Jun 2016
The Guardian Reporter
The Guardian
Police launch manhunt deep into caves for machete killers
  • Tuesday’s gruesome multiple massacres sent shockwaves across the country. According to police sources, the murderers are believed to be hiding inside the Amboni Caves, a notorious hideout for criminals thanks to its many hidden chambers and entrances

HEAVILY armed police officers yesterday swept the Amboni Caves in Tanga as an extensive manhunt intensified for machete-wielding thugs suspected to be behind the brutal murders of eight people in separate attacks early on Tuesday.

Masauni gazes into one of the many entrances to the Amboni Caves which have become a focus of the manhunt as at least some of the suspects are believed to be holed up inside.

According to police sources, the suspected killers are believed to be hiding deep inside the largest cave system in East Africa, which is also known as a notorious hide-out for criminals thanks to its many hidden chambers and entrances.

A number of senior government officials and high-level security and defence officers have converged on Tanga region to lead the hunt for the perpetrators of the gruesome multiple massacres which sent shockwaves across the country.

They include the deputy minister for home affairs, Hamad Masauni, Inspector General of Police (IGP) Ernest Mangu, and Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) Diwani Athumani.

Tanga regional commissioner Martin Shigela called on worried local residents to remain calm as the official search continued for the responsible parties behind the grisly Tanga attacks.

Shigela said a special task force comprising members of the Tanzania Police Force and the Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) was combing the entire region in its hunt for the killers.

This was confirmed by DCI Diwani, who told The Guardian yesterday that the police was working closely with other security and defence forces in conducting the investigation, but declined further comment.

“That is all I can say for now," Diwani said.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack so far and police said they are still trying to determine a motive.

Law enforcement authorities are understood to be investigating more than 10 separate cases of similarly-brutal murders that have occurred over the past month or so in different regions around the country.

The latest murders in Tanga came on the heels of a similar deadly machete attack on a mosque in Mwanza region last month which left three people, including the imam of the mosque, dead.

Other regions like Mara and Shinyanga have also reported such incidents.

In Dodoma, members of parliament yesterday took the government to task over the recent spate of violent murders that are seemingly spreading across the country.

The MP for Mwibara constituency, Kangi Lugola (CCM), asked the government to end its 'deafening silence' and issue a formal statement on the ongoing bloodletting.

“We have all seen the reports of brutal killings in more than two different regions. People are scared and wondering what is happening, while the government is just keeping quiet,” said Lugola, who is a former police officer.

The deputy speaker of the National Assembly, Tulia Ackson, also called on the government to issue a statement on the killings sooner rather than later.

“People are worried ...they don’t know what is going on. The government must inform members of the public what is going on and what is being done about this situation,” she said.

The Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office (Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled), Jenista Mhagama, assured lawmakers that the government was on top of the situation.

Mhagama called on MPs and members of the public to remain patient, saying an official government statement on the killings will be issued in due time.

Meanwhile, the bodies of the eight people who were killed in Tuesday’s early-morning machete and knife attacks were laid to rest yesterday in their home village in Tanga region.