Tanzania on alert for al-Shabaab infiltrators

Interview conducted by Attilio Tagalile in Dar es Salaam

January 26, 2012

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Kenya's Operation Linda Nchi, which has worked to eradicate al-Shabaab from southern Somalia since October 2011, has also triggered precautionary security measures in neighbouring Tanzania.

  • Tanzanian soldiers supervise the arrival of an armoured personnel carrier in Stone Town, Zanzibar. [Marco Longari/AFP]

    Tanzanian soldiers supervise the arrival of an armoured personnel carrier in Stone Town, Zanzibar. [Marco Longari/AFP]

  • Assistant Police Commissioner Advera Senso says her office is utilising community policing to increase awareness of suspicious activity. [Attilio Tagalile/Sabahi]

    Assistant Police Commissioner Advera Senso says her office is utilising community policing to increase awareness of suspicious activity. [Attilio Tagalile/Sabahi]

Like Kenya, Tanzania is home to a sizable Somali community and has an economy that depends heavily on the tourism industry.

In an exclusive interview with Sabahi, Tanzanian Assistant Police Commissioner Advera Senso said special security measures have been taken along Tanzania's borders to ensure the war against al-Shabaab does not spill over into Tanzania.

Sabahi: The Kenya Defence Forces have been in Somalia taking on al-Shabaab after it threatened Kenya's lucrative tourism industry by kidnapping tourists. How safe is Tanzania from al-Shabaab?

Advera Senso: Although we have not experienced any attacks from the group, we are certainly not safe, given our proximity to countries involved in the war against the group inside Somalia. For that reason, we have decided to take a number of security measures as a precaution against the group.

For instance, we have strengthened our borders, especially the northern part where the Arusha and Tanga regions border with Kenya. Since the Kenyan army is involved in fighting with al-Shabaab, there is a danger that members of the group will try to get around the Kenyan troops through Tanzania.

The group has already issued threats against Kenyans, and the group knows that it will not be easy for them to get into Kenya. For this reason, we have decided to beef up our security to ensure that al-Shabaab does not get into Tanzania.

Sabahi: What form of security measures have the police taken against possible threats from the terrorist group?

Senso: First of all, I would like to clarify who is involved in what. It is not just the police that are involved in this exercise, but the country's entire government apparatus. I have in mind here the People's Defence Force, the Immigration Department, which, like the police, is under the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Tanzania Intelligence and Security Service.

For instance, along the border in the Arusha and Tanga regions, we encourage the people to report to the police whenever they come across suspicious characters.

We also have strengthened security along our borders through increased personnel and provision of vehicles for patrolling purposes. We have done the same thing in Tanzania's territorial waters in the Indian Ocean, and increased the number of patrol boats. Recently, Minister for Home Affairs Shamshi Vuai Nahodha presented the police with three boats for that purpose in the Indian Ocean.

Our commanders on the ground have also been using knowledge learnt and experience gained from a community policing course funded by the German government, in training average people how to deal with suspicious characters. We have provided Tanzanians along our borders with special mobile phone numbers that they can use whenever they come across suspicious characters.

The people out there are our main and very important tool in the fight against al-Shabaab and any enemy of the country. As you know, members of the police force cannot be everywhere all the time, but the people can, hence the need to make full use of them.

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Reader's Comments

  • said abas
    December 30, 2013 @ 02:37:24PM

    Brother, wherever they wish to enter, nothing can stop them. What Tanzanian police that can stop those honourables? We should only pray for the peace of country, because they are known as GOD'S ARMY. You might ask yourself, between God and human being who is on top? That is why these people are not defeated anywhere they decide to go, because they are being protected by God in all of their good missions. Ask KENYANS ABOUT WHAT HAPPENED TO THEM. LET'S PRAY FOR PEACE OF OUR COUNTRY, because if those clashes happen, our children and women are the ones who will suffer and won't differentiate Muslims from Christians. GOD BLESS TANZANIA. If God wishes.

  • Matiko Chacha Tugara
    November 1, 2013 @ 02:49:31AM

    Advera, I trust you. Tanzanians' security is in your hands. We are with you.

  • Shazma
    September 24, 2013 @ 11:41:24AM

    Really sad n scary if they come to dar lets pray to god for kenya.and for al shabab not to come here to dar.

  • frank silvester shirima
    February 27, 2012 @ 04:21:45AM

    yes tanzania go! go! do not allow these people to commit evil in your country pursue them relentlessly until they perish!

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