DAR ES SALAAM – Unknown gunmen killed six farmers near Tanzania’s southern border with Mozambique, a senior police official said on Wednesday, amid growing concerns over Islamist militants in a poor region where foreign companies are developing gas deposits.
The ambush on Tuesday night, on an island in the Ruvuma River that forms the border between the two countries, is the latest in a spate of execution-style attacks in the area since 2017 that have so far killed more than 100 people.
The gas deposits are in the northern Mozambican province Cabo Delgado, and researchers have found that the militants who are based there and launch attacks on both sides of the border have links to Islamist groups in Tanzania, Somalia, Kenya and the Great Lakes region, where some also received training.
“A group of armed men is believed to have entered the country from Mozambique, ambushed the farmers at an island, rounded them up and shot them,” Tanzania’s director of criminal investigations (DCI), Robert Boaz, told journalists.
Seven people were injured and hospitalised, and Tanzanian security forces are searching for the attackers, he said.
In June, gunmen from an Islamist militant armed group operating in Cabo Delgado killed 11 people in northern Mozambique near its border with Tanzania.
Impoverished Cabo Delgado, surrounded by dense forests and isolated villages, houses a growing number of multinational companies developing one of the biggest offshore gas finds in a decade – estimated to be worth at least $30 billion.
The attacks have mostly targeted civilians and government buildings. But in February U.S. energy giant Anadarko said one worker was killed and several others injured in two attacks near the construction site for its massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in the province.