Mystery shrouds Vikindu killings

· Leader, residents give contradicting testimonies

· Special 80-strong task force deployed

MYSTERY still surrounds the violent incident at Vikindu in Coast Region where a police officer was shot dead by bandits shortly after midnight on Friday. Investigation into the matter at the scene of the shooting yesterday produced mixed feelings and emotions.

The Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander, Mr Simon Sirro, has said that more than 80 police officers were yesterday deployed in some parts of the city, Vikindu and Coast Region to monitor the situation.

The day-long survey by the ‘Sunday News’ came up with questionable accounts as residents and the area’s local government leader gave contradicting explanations.

Vikindu East Village Chairman, Mr Mohammed Maundu, admitted that he was not aware of the ‘bandits’ until a barrage of bullets rocked the community on Friday night. He knew the house where the suspects lived for about 36 months as tenants but was ignorant of their mission.

Vikindu is located in Mkuranga District which owns four forest reserves and covers 51 per cent of the total forest area in the Coast region.

Located in the southern part of Dar es Salaam, Vikindu East Village, which is home to over 3,000 residents, according to the areas’ local government leader, accommodated strangers for about three years, though most of the locals knew nothing about them.

“I admit that these people lived in the area of my jurisdiction though I was unaware of their motives ...,” he said. Mr Maundu affirmed that Vikindu was a fast-growing place thus it was hard to know every person who either lived or visited the area.

One of the residents, who owns a shop at the village, gave a different account suggesting that the suspects were among his daily customers. He told the ‘Sunday News’ that he never suspected that such a family had ill intentions as they treated him friendly.

However, the reaction from the residents shows that the area was often experiencing robberies as the village is located near Kongowe forest which could be a hideout for criminals. An impeccable source told this paper that the organised criminal group which had been on a revenge mission could have its base in Mkuranga forests.

Another resident, Ms Rukia Mnende, who lives next to the house which was occupied by the suspects before being flushed out on Friday, said she knew the owner of the house.

She, however, explained that the house owner shifted to Temeke municipality, but she could not identify those who rented the building for the last three years, until last Friday, when they engaged the law enforcers in a shoot-out. Another resident, Mr Salum Mpili, told this paper that the suspects were night movers, thus making it difficult to trace their undertakings.

Yesterday’s spot-check also revealed that the residents were still gripped with fear. A number of residents called for intensified inspection to unearth more criminals who might have turned the place into a battle field.

What threw them into such disgusting panic, according to the area leader, is the fact that even after the house was put under siege, no weapons were recovered.

He wondered that despite the intensive exchange of fire that left a top police officer with the anti-robbery unit dead, the police did not confiscate any weapon, signalling that other suspects had escaped with firearms.

Commander Sirro assured city residents of their safety, insisting that security organs were alert and would foil any criminal attempt. Hesitant to disclose more details, the zonal police chief only confirmed that several bandits were killed during the exchange of fire and others arrested.

Talking earlier with the ‘Sunday News’, the Coast Regional Commissioner (RC), Mr Evarist Ndikilo, said Friday night's operation at Vikindu was conducted by a special national task force.

He noted that the regional security and defence committee is set to convene next week, among others, to map out and strategise an effective mechanism to address the situation.

Mr Ndikilo noted that last Thursday’s confrontation was a wakeup call that “an enemy was at our doorstep.”

He admitted that Coast Region, especially Mkuranga District has been experiencing repeated attacks characterised by incidents of weapon snatching that has compelled the government to devise well-thought ways to suppress the criminals. “We have laid down strategies to handle the situation.

I can’t mention any names. Revealing the names of criminals is the same as disclosing war techniques to the enemy. We are busy now, when we have information worth sharing we will do so. But for now, that is all I can say,” Mr Ndikilo said in a telephone interview.

Mystery shrouds Vikindu killings Mystery shrouds Vikindu killings Reviewed by on 10:25:00 PM Rating: 5

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