27 August 2017

Tanzania: Dark Cloud Hangs On Law Firm Attack

Photo: The Citizen
Tanganyika Law Society president Tundu Lissu addresses a news conference in Dar es Salaam.

Dar es Salaam — The offices of IMMMA Advocates were hit by two explosions at 2am on Saturday, in an incident that shocked the legal fraternity and raised questions on the motive of attackers.

The explosions shattered windows and blasted open the entrance and reception of the IMMMA House located along United Nations road, according to The Citizen's observation. Windows of adjacent properties were also destroyed.

The Managing Partner of Immma advocates Mr Sadock Magai said preliminary inspection shows nothing was stolen.

"All the computers, laptops, mobile phones and even cash were left untouched. They are also of good condition," Mr Magai said, adding that inspection of documents was going on to see if any were missing.

The main puzzle however remains on the motives of the attackers, witnesses who spoke to The Citizen said due to the fact that several galloons containing gasolione were found left at the back of IMMMA House. The Citizen observed the galloons being carried away by the Police and Mr Magai confirmed that they contained gasoline. But he added that he did not think that the incident was politically motivated and he urged the public to avoid too much speculation.

"Let's us leave the whole issue to the Police, who are the experts in investigations," he noted.

Police speak on incident

The outgoing acting commander of the Dar es Salaam Special Police Zone Mr Lucas Mkondya told The Citizen in a telephone interview yesterday that it was too early to determine the nature of explosions at the IMMMA House.

"We (police) are investigating the matter and we will let the public know once our investigations are complete," said commander Mkondya adding. He said so far no one who is under arrest in relation to the incident.

The incident prompted a reaction from Tundu Lisu, the president of the Tanganyika Law Society, (TLS) who called an emergency meeting of the TLS Governing Council to deliberate what he called an "odious attack."

"Whatever the motives and whoever the perpetrators, this is unacceptable and intolerable," Mr Lissu said in a statement he posted on social media yesterday.

Security guards 'kidnapped'

The security guards manning IMMMA House were taken from the premises by unknown people just before the incident, according to Mr Magai, and were found in the morning dumped at the Kawe area.

"Police said the security guards were found at Kawe. They were unconscious and have been admitted to Muhimbili National Hospital," Mr Magai said.

Witnesses' accounts

Neigbours recounted on how they were shocked out of their slumbers by the two explosions.

One next door neighbour said the first explosion was small and did not concern them much. It was the second explosion that shocked them and frightened them.

"The second explosion was so huge that we wondered whether it was an attack on our house. We wondered whether we would come out alive," the neighbour said declining to reveal his name. He said the second blast shattered windows and sent the children screaming in panic.

Another neighbour who also refused to say his name said he had to spend a sleepless night due to the explosions. "I had gone to bed at mid-night. Barely two hours later the explosions started. They destroyed my windows and I had to move from the bedroom to another room on the other side of the house. But we could not get out to see what was happening for fear of more explosions. We just decided to stay indoors," he narrated.

He said he could see through the shattered window of his bedroom the extent of damage of IMMMA House.

Other eye witnesses said before the explosion armed men had come in three Land Crusers and entered the premises. The explosion happened a few minutes after they had left.

"They arrived in the three vehicles. Some jumped out of the vehicles and took positions on the road outside IMMMA House. Then the main gate was opened and the vehicles entered the premises in reverse. A few minutes passed and then vehicles left. Soon after we heard the two explosions in succession," one of the eye witnesses said. "It was terrible, everyone was scared and confused," another eye witness added.

Early in the morning police officers and some soldiers from the Tanzania People's Defense Force, believed to be from the bomb squad arrived at the scene. The section of the United Nations road that passes in front of IMMMA House was temporarily closed. It was reopened around 1030am.

Ms Fatma Karume, a daughter of former Zanzibar President Amani Abeid Karume, is one of the partners of IMMMA advocates. Some of the clients of the law firm include international mining conglomerates, mobile phone companies, commercial banks, aid agencies and the goverment.

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