By Peter Saramba Ongiri
MWANZA, Tanzania (AA) - Police in northern Tanzania said late Sunday they had killed three men suspected of carrying out a deadly attack on a mosque last month.
Regional Police Commander Ahmed Msangi said the three “gangsters” were at a cave near the Mkolani neighborhood of Mwanza city, where three people, including an imam, were hacked to death at a mosque on May 18.
“Police revealed the gangsters’ hideout following the arrest of one of the notorious suspects earlier in the afternoon of June 4,” Msangi said.
He added: “Immediately after they noticed that they were surrounded, the gangsters opened fire against the police, who had to fire back.”
One police officer was wounded during the 10-hour siege from 4 a.m. local time (0100GMT) Sunday, in which police used rocket-propelled grenades to overcome the heavily-armed suspects.
Msangi said the Masjid Rahman imam had been targeted because he and other members of the mosque congregation had helped police crackdown on local extremists.
It is thought the incident and another brutal attack in the Tanga region on the northern coast, in which eight people were hacked to death on May 31, have links to terrorism although police would not confirm this.
Since the 1998 bombing of the U.S. embassy in Dar es Salaam by al-Qaeda, Tanzania has experienced several terror attacks in areas such as Zanzibar, Arusha and Mwanza, where both mosques and churches have been targeted.