DAR ES SALAAM, Jan 4 (Reuters) - Twenty illegal Somali migrants suffocated
to death as they were being smuggled in a cramped container truck through
Tanzania, their bodies dumped on the road, police said on Wednesday.
The bodies of the 17 men and three women were dumped at various areas in the
Morogoro region, some 200 km (125 miles) west of the commercial capital Dar
es Salaam, regional police commander Adolphina Chialo said.
They were found between Dec. 26 and Jan. 1, she added.
Tanzania serves as a transit route for human trafficking, mostly of Somali
and Ethiopian nationals, to South Africa and Europe. Somalia has been
engulfed in conflict for the past two decades, with hundreds of thousands
fleeing the violence.
"Based on our preliminary investigations, the Somalis died from lack of air
and very hot conditions inside the metal, 20-square-foot (1.8 square-metre)
container," Chialo told Reuters by telephone.
"The human traffickers dumped the bodies one by one after they had
suffocated inside the container as the truck was heading towards the border
between Tanzania and Zambia," she said.
Police also arrested 14 other illegal Somali migrants who had escaped from
the truck and hidden in a forest, Chialo said. They were held because they
had entered the country illegally.
However, the smugglers were not found and the vehicle was not identified,
the police official said.
It was not immediately clear if any other migrants had made it alive to
their destination on the Tanzania-Zambia border, police said. (Reporting by
Fumbuka Ng'wanakilala; Editing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Alessandra
C Thomson Reuters 2012 All rights reserved
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Received on Wed Jan 04 2012 - 15:42:50 EST