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Four policemen held over Songea killings

24th February 2012
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Ruvuma Regional Police commander, Michael Kamuhanda

Four policemen are in custody in Songea over the firing of live bullets which killed two civilians and wounded several others who were protesting over the recent mysterious deaths in the region.

The fracas that happened on Wednesday here is said to have seriously damaged properties worth millions of shillings, the Ruvuma Regional Police commander, Michael Kamuhanda told reporters here yesterday.

He however said calm had been restored in the municipality and that security measures were still being enforced to enable citizens carry on their normal duties.

Kamuhanda said more than 54 people who were arrested during the fracas appeared before court yesterday to answer charges of taking part in the illegal demonstration that caused havoc in various parts of Songea municipality.

He told reporters that the police officers who were involved in firing the fatal shots in Wednesday’s demonstrations were being held by the police for interrogation.

The RPC said legal measures will be taken once it is discovered that they were irresponsible.

Kamuhanda explained that the protesting citizens stoned offices of Chama cha Mapinduzi Songea municipality and Songea rural and set fire to the party’s flags.

“They also attacked the office of the district commissioner and regional commissioner. They went as far as invading the state lodge in Ruvuma, stoning it and later invaded the central police station which they also stoned,” said the commander.

He said they were also indiscriminately beating and injuring people.

Kamuhanda explained further that the demonstrators blocked roads using stones and logs and that they burnt tyres to block cars coming in and going out of the town.

“They attacked a police car forcing them to use tear gas to defend themselves,” he noted.

Clarifying, the commander said the source of the violence was the complaint by wananchi of what they termed mysterious killings of people, accusing the police of not taking any measures to redress the situation.

Kamuhanda said around 08:00am on Tuesday, this week a motorcycle rider was killed at Matarawe.

For his part, the Songea district commissioner, Thomas Ole Sabaya said after the incident they called all local government leaders and instructed them to immediately commence community policing.

He said they also ordered people involved in criminal activities to surrender immediately to security organs before they were arrested.

The regional commissioner, Said Mwambungu who is the chairman of the regional defence and security committee has condemned the incident.

He has formed an eight-man team to probe the fracas and submit a report to the committee next Thursday

Residents have requested the government to take immediate measures to control killings that have been taking place in the region.

SOURCE: THE GUARDIAN
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