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Thursday, September 23, 2010

No Tanzanians in Al-Shabab ranks - Govt says

The government yesterday said so far, there are no Tanzanians serving as mercenaries in the ranks of Somalia’s Al-Shabab, a terrorist group blamed for attacks in Somalia and East African countries.

“We made our investigations and discovered that there are no Tanzanians working as mercenaries for Al-Shabab,” confirmed Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Ambassador Seif Iddi, in an exclusive interview with The Guardian.

He said the government had made thorough investigation on reports that there are Tanzanians who are used as mercenaries by Al-Shabab, a group which is threatening security in the EAC region.

In the investigation, the government which used national and regional instruments to trace whether any Tanzanian was in the Al-Shabab ranks, discovered that the reports were false, he said.

“There may be some people currently supporting operations of Al-Shabab in our region, who might pose as Tanzanians, but they are not Tanzanian citizens…our records show that we (Tanzania) have nobody working as mercenaries for Al-Shaabab,” said the minister.

He said Tanzanian government was in the fore-front in pushing for achievement of durable peace in Somalia and other conflict-prone countries in Africa. “We cannot allow our people to be used as mercenaries to fuel conflicts and insecurity in Somalia and across EAC,” he said.

“In fact, we cannot support peace initiatives in Somalia, on one hand and become agents of fueling insecurity, on the other…this is impossible,” he said.

He pledged for the government commitments to back up international and regional initiatives in driving out anti-government groups in Somalia and enhancing durable peace and security in the war-torn country.

The minister’s remarks come in the wake of the recent arrest of a man by police in Arusha who was suspected to have been involved in the terror bombings which recently killed at least 76 people in Kampala, Uganda, in which Al Shabab—the Somali ally of Al Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the deadly explosions.

As interrogation of the man by Tanzanian police continues, there are still contradictory reports on the nationality of the man. While some reports say that the man identified as Abudaumaki Majidi is a Somali national, others said that the man is a Tanzanian.

In a brief telephone interview with The Guardian last Friday, the Director of Criminal Investigations, Robert Manumba said: “The public would be informed if the man is a Tanzanian or Somali national after the completion of the on-going investigation.”

The DCI refused to disclose details on the progress of the on-going interrogation and investigation processes.

International news had said the number of foreign fighters used as mercenaries by anti-government groups in Somalia, including Al-Shabab is increasingly attracting fighters from different parts of the world including the neighbouring countries. The reports said most of the foreign fighters in Somalia were coming from neighbouring countries --Kenya, Tanzania, Yemen and Sudan.


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