Insurgents based in Mozambique conducted a major attack on the Tanzanian town of Kitaya on Wednesday night, capturing an armoured personnel carrier and killing at least two people.
A communication from the Islamic State (IS) group claimed the attack had hit a barracks of “the Tanzanian Crusader army”. Video footage has emerged on social media and messaging apps, showing armed men shouting in Swahili that they are Al Shabaab from Mozambique, now attacking Tanzania.
The Islamic State statement claims a tank was captured in Kitaya, which sits on the Tanzanian side of the Rovuma River which forms the border between Tanzania and Mozambique. One of the videos appears to show the men with an armoured car.
The videos suggest a political angle to the attack, which came two weeks ahead of the Presidential election in Tanzania. One video shows an apparent insurgent tearing a poster of Tanzanian President John Magufuli, who is expected to win a second term in this month’s poll.
“Here we are in Magufulli's village, Kitaya,” says the man tearing the Magufuli poster. “This is Kitaya, and we are Al Shabaab from Mozambique,” he says. “We've come to remove Magufuli.”
A woman who fled the attack spoke to online news channel Nyikani TV, saying the attackers arrived at around 7pm on Wednesday night, and referred to themselves as Al Shabaab. They burned houses and killed two people, the woman said. Some locals fled to hide in the bush, while others went to a nearby neighbourhood.
The attackers, she said, remained hiding across the river nearby, threatening to attack the town again.
A security analyst told Zitamar they had received a report of a prolonged firefight involving up to 200 insurgents, who attacked the nearby army post and ambushed reinforcements who were on their way to the town.
This article was produced by Zitamar and Mediafax under the Cabo Ligado project, in collaboration with ACLED and with support from Crisis Group. The contents of the article are the sole responsibility of Zitamar News.