Police have shot dead six suspected gangsters in a foiled robbery attempt at a bank in northern Tanzania.
Police deny claims they are too prone to violence
Police chief James Kombe said the gangsters were ambushed by policemen while trying to break into the a safe at Post Bank in Arusha.
Mr Kombe told the BBC the robbers had drugged the bank's security guards.
Police recovered a pistol and a shotgun. There have been complaints that on-the-spot shootings of suspects are on the rise.
Mr Kombe said police shot the men in self defence after they themselves were shot at during the ambush.
"What did you expect, our officers to do. They could have been killed," said Mr Kombe.
In his national address last year, President Benjamin Mkapa said his government would show zero tolerance towards criminals who shot at policemen while on duty.
The BBC's John Ngahyoma in Dar es Salaam says since the directive, some people feel policemen have adopted a "shoot-first-and-ask-later style" when dealing with suspected criminals.
During the attempted robbery at the Post Bank a policeman was injured.
The regional police commander has attributed increased incidents of armed robberies in Arusha to thriving economic activities which include gemstone, mining and tourism.
Arusha also hosts the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) bringing in a large wealthy ex-pat community.