UK issues new terror warning for nationals in Tanzania

Harbour and city center skyline in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. Credit Photo AFP

By The East African

Britain has issued a security alert for its nationals, warning of potential terrorism danger in the southern regions of Tanzania near the border with Mozambique.

In an updated travel advisory for Tanzania, the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on October 30 warned against “all but essential travel to any area within 20 kilometres of the Tanzanian border with the Cabo Delgado Province of northern Mozambique.”

It said the new advisory was “due to attacks by groups linked with Islamic extremism” and also cautioned that terrorists were “very likely to try to carry out attacks in Tanzania in the near future, including in major cities.”

According to the FCDO, the attacks “could be indiscriminate and occur without warning” with an added risk of “kidnapping for ransom and political purposes.”

“Places frequented by Westerners, including places of worship, transport hubs, embassies, hotels and restaurants, and major gatherings like sporting and religious events, may be targets,” it said.

Around 75,000 British nationals visit Tanzania every year and the FCDO advisory urged them to “remain vigilant at all times” while in the country.

The latest alert comes about two weeks after a similar one issued for “certain areas in Uganda” following the deaths of three people including a Briton in a “suspected” terrorist attack in the country’s Queen Elizabeth National Park.

Also killed in the Uganda incident which occurred in mid-October were a South African national and a local tour guide.

The FCDO said although Tanzania has not suffered a major terrorist incident since the 1998 US embassy bombing in Dar es Salaam “there have been a number of smaller-scale incidents.”

“Most attacks target the local security forces, though attacks against Western interests are also possible,” it added.

It also noted that Tanzanian authorities had successfully made a number of arrests in connection to terrorism, but added that many of the incidents were “of unclear origin and may be conducted by criminal gangs.”

The alert made particular reference to an October 2020 attack in Kitara villagè in Tanzania’s Mtwara region close to the border with Mozambique, stating that the attack was “claimed” by Islamic extremists operating in northern Mozambique.

“Attacks by IS-Mozambique, who are based in the Cabo Delgado province of Mozambique, are possible near Tanzania’s border with this area of Mozambique. There is also thought to be some support for Daesh (formerly referred to as ISIL),” it said.

It further mentioned that members of Somalia’s Al Shabaab faction were also “thought to be active in Tanzania” as in other East African countries.