NAIROBI (Reuters) - About 300 militants from Mozambique attacked a village in southern Tanzania and killed an unknown number of people last week, Tanzania’s top police officer said, describing an attack claimed earlier by the Islamic State.
Inspector General of Police Simon Sirro said militants attacked the village of Kitaya in Tanzania’s rural Mtwara region bordering Mozambique.
“Terrorists numbering 300, coming from Mozambique, attacked our station and the village of Kitaya, and committed crimes and they killed,” Sirro said in an interview with Azam TV, a private Tanzanian chain, broadcast late Thursday.
He did not specify the number of people killed, nor give a date for the attack.
He said police had arrested and were interrogating some of the militants while others were believed to have returned to Mozambique.
It was the first time authorities in Tanzania have acknowledged that an escalating Islamist insurgency in northern Mozambique with links to Islamic State is also active in Tanzania.
IS claimed the attack in a message on one of its Telegram channels on Oct. 15, which said its fighters had attacked an army barracks in the village a day earlier, killing a number of personnel and capturing weapons and ammunition.
Attacks in Tanzania have been far more sporadic and less deadly than those in Mozambique, where the militants have killed hundreds of people since their first attack in 2017.
Analysts say the group has transformed since then into a formidable force that can seize and hold significant locations.
The group pledged allegiance to IS in 2019 and Islamic State has claimed a spate of recent attacks in the impoverished Cabo Delgado province, boasting one of the biggest gas finds in a decade just off its coast.
Multinational companies including Exxon Mobil and Total are developing the gas in projects worth some $60 billion.
Reporting by George Obulutsa; Additional reporting by Maher Chmaytelli in Dubai and Emma Rumney in Johannesburg; Editing by Maggie Fick and Giles Elgood
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