Is­lamist at­tacks in Mozam­bique

In­sur­gency ‘spread­ing’

Cape Times - - WORLD NEWS - – Paul Fau­vet for In­de­pen­dent For­eign Ser­vice

AN UNIDEN­TI­FIED group, be­lieved to be is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­ists, at­tacked a vil­lage in Nan­gade district, in the north­ern Mozam­bi­can prov­ince of Cabo Del­gado on Mon­day night, killing two peo­ple and in­jur­ing a third.

Nan­gade bor­ders on Mocim­boa da Praia and Palma dis­tricts, where there have also been is­lamist at­tacks. De­spite the po­lice of­fer of an amnesty, the in­sur­gency ap­pears to be spread­ing.

The spokesper­son for the Gen­eral Com­mand of the Mozam­bi­can po­lice, Ina­cio Dina, con­firmed the at­tack on Tues­day.

Dina said that one of those killed was a worker at a Nan­gade health post, and the sec­ond was the wife of a lo­cal busi­ness­man. He said the raiders van­dalised sev­eral build­ings in the vil­lage of Nkonga and stole all the medicines from the health post.

Lo­cal sources said the group also stole food from stalls in the Nkonga mar­ket. When they left, they took eight mo­tor­bikes and 10 goats.

“The de­fence and se­cu­rity forces are on the ground, pur­su­ing the group,” said Dina. “They in­tend to ar­rest the at­tack­ers, hold them re­spon­si­ble for their acts, and re­cover the stolen prop­erty.”

The Is­lamist in­sur­gency be­gan with co-or­di­nated at­tacks on three po­lice premises in Mocim­boa da Praia on Oc­to­ber 5. Al­though the po­lice quickly re­gained con­trol of Mocim­boa town, spo­radic at­tacks have con­tin­ued, and have now spread to the two neigh­bour­ing dis­tricts.

On Satur­day night, the in­sur­gents at­tacked the Olumbe ad­min­is­tra­tive post in Palma, killing five peo­ple and wound­ing a fur­ther 11.

Two days later came the at­tack in Nan­gade.

The po­lice have been re­luc­tant to blame the same group for all the at­tacks, with Dina claim­ing it would be “pre­ma­ture” to draw that con­clu­sion.

But sources on the ground in Cabo Del­gado have no doubt that all the raids are the work of an Is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­ist group, re­ferred to lo­cally as “Al-Shabaab” (al­though it does not seem to have any di­rect con­nec­tion with the So­mali ter­ror­ist group of that name).

So far, the po­lice have de­tained more than 300 peo­ple in con­nec­tion with the at­tacks.

Dina said most of them were Mozam­bi­cans, but the group also con­tains for­eign­ers, mainly Tan­za­ni­ans. Both Palma and Nan­gade dis­tricts bor­der on Tan­za­nia.

The gen­eral com­man­der of the Mozam­bi­can po­lice, Ber­nadino Rafael, vis­ited Dar es Salaam on Mon­day and signed a pro­to­col with his Tan­za­nian coun­ter­part, Si­mon Nyankoro Sirro, for co-op­er­a­tion in the fight against ter­ror­ism, and cross-bor­der crime.

The pro­to­col lists a large num­ber of crimes, but there can be lit­tle doubt that the most im­por­tant pro­vi­sion is that the two po­lice forces must give a com­bined re­sponse to in­cur­sions by ter­ror­ist groups.

This clause will al­low the Mozam­bi­can de­fence and se­cu­rity forces to call on Tan­za­nian as­sis­tance in the fight against Is­lamic fun­da­men­tal­ists in Cabo Del­gado.

Last month Rafael gave the Is­lamists seven days to sur­ren­der and hand over their weapons.

Those who re­fused to do so would be re­garded as ter­ror­ists and would be hunted down, he warned.

It is un­clear whether any Is­lamists took up his of­fer of amnesty, which ex­pired on De­cem­ber 22: cer­tainly, the po­lice did not an­nounce that any had done so.

The at­tacks must be a mat­ter of great con­cern to the au­thor­i­ties, be­cause Palma is the near­est district to the enor­mous off­shore dis­cov­er­ies of nat­u­ral gas, which could trans­form Mozam­bique into the world’s third-largest ex­porter of liq­ue­fied nat­u­ral gas.

A new port will be built at Palma, and gas pro­cess­ing plants will be built on Palma’s Afungi Penin­sula.

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