A suspect believed to be the gunman on the run who shot dead eight people in a span of three days in Tarime district has been arrested in Tanga region, The Citizen can report. Home Affairs Minister Mathias Chikawe and Inspector General of Police Ernest Mangu confirmed yesterday that the suspect was arrested on Wednesday night. He is key to solving the mystery of the unprovoked killings that shocked the country.
“It’s true that we have arrested the key suspect in the serial killings. He was captured in Tanga after well-coordinated intelligence work and has been taken to Tarime for final verification,” IGP Mangu said.
Earlier, Mr Chikawe told The Citizen that they believed the suspect was the lone gunman behind the heinous crime. “The Tarime serial killer has been arrested by police and this is good news for the country.”
Asked to reveal the identity of the suspect, Mr Mangu said it was too early to give such details as police were still on the ground pursuing other sensitive information. He hinted, though, that people close to the suspect may have played a big role in pinpointing his hideout.
The suspect’s capture is being touted within the Police Force as a major breakthrough in dismantling a syndicate of dangerous and armed criminals operating across the country.
Police sources were also hailing the arrest as a breakthrough for a newly-established police intelligence gathering structure that involves them and officers from the directorate of criminal investigations department to respond to underworld crime and such cases as those in Tarime.
Teamwork was credited for the arrest of 15 suspects who were, by yesterday, being held for interrogation in Tarime by officers led by the Commander of the Tarime/Rorya Special Police Zone, Mr Justus Kamugisha.
Speaking on the phone, Mr Kamugisha said appropriate information will be shared with the public when the high profile investigation was complete. “All I can say for now is that we have 15 people in custody,” he told The Citizen. “We arrested them in several cities in the country as part of our investigation.”
The serial killings that rocked Tarime district started on January 25 and early reports from investigators, including a team sent from Dar es Salaam, pointed to a syndicate of criminals working in cahoots with accomplices within and outside the area.
In total, the serial killer shot dead eight people at close range in just three nights and injured several others in spontaneous attacks early in the night. Life in Tarime was turned upside down in the manhunt for the suspect and panicking residents were unable to run carry out their business or attend to other chores.
It is not clear what the killer’s motive was, besides robbing his victims of cash and other small belongings. There was no clear target and only the pattern of the killings appeared to be regular, as the gunman waylaid his victims.
Fear and shock has clouded the lives of Tarime residents since last week, when they had to contend with a killer on the loose.
The arrest will restore security and confidence in one of the country’s most crime-riddled areas. The US Federal Bureau of Investigation defines the term “serial killings” as three or more killings having common characteristics that suggest the possibility that the crimes were committed by the same actor or actors. In the Tarime killings, the motive and identity of the killer are still a mystery. Top security officials in Mara region have been on the case since last week.
According to the witnesses, the assailant spoke in Kiswahili and the Kurya language, suggesting that he may be a local resident and not a foreigner as earlier reports suggested.
The gunman wore a long dark coat and a woolen hood that covered his head and face.
Those who encountered him told The Citizen last week that they did not establish eye contact with him, which may well be why they are still alive today. The assailant is believed to have shot some of his victims at close range, fearing they could identify him.
But his thirst for killing came to an end on Wednesday this week far from home: He was arrested in Tanga, about 1,300km from Tarime.