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Panic dominated the situation in northern Mozambique, where Islamist attacks escalated

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — The recent escalating attacks in northern Mozambique, which has been witnessing an Islamic rebellion since October 2017, are spreading terror among the population and the multinational gas companies that are calling for military reinforcements, as well as the police, who are “terrified” due to the lack of equipment.

Two and a half years ago, a mysterious Islamic group was active in the predominantly Muslim province of Cabo Delgado. The rebels are burning villages, beheading civilians and seizing military vehicles.

The violence resulted in the deaths of 700 people, according to “Doctors Without Borders”, which is one of the few NGOs in that region. It has also displaced at least 100,000 people, according to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

UNHCR spokesman Andrej Mahisic announced early February that “the past months have witnessed a dramatic upsurge in (numbers) of brutal attacks by armed groups.”

He added that “the last weeks have been characterized by being the most unstable periods” since October 2017, noting that “the attacks are currently spreading to areas in the south of Cabo Delgado, forcing the population to flee towards (the city) of Pemba.”

According to the same source, one of the most recent attacks occurred about 100 km from Pemba, the city of about 200,000 people.

Mahisic explains that civilians are paying a heavy price, as they flee “in many directions, including small islands, where they lack shelter.” He says, “Most of them leave everything behind because they have no time to transport their things, food or even personal documents.”

Doctors Without Borders is talking about “queues of people walking on the main roads as their villages are burning”, pointing out that it is common to find four families living under one roof in the city of Makumiya.

Gas companies are worried.

“Everyone is terrified,” a local teacher told France Press, adding that “many children do not go to school because their parents prevent them from leaving the house” for fear of being attacked on the road.

“People sleep in the forests,” for fear of being attacked, their villages said.

Last week, Mozambican President Philip Nyossi held a cabinet meeting in Pemba, where he accused “foreigners” of fueling this “war.”

Since June, ISIS has adopted numerous bloody attacks in Cabo Delgado, without the emergence of concrete evidence confirming its provision of logistical support.

Ryan Cummings, an expert at the consulting firm Signal Risk, notes that the Islamists have recently carried out attacks on security forces and their installations. He considers that this reality portends the “evolution of the aggressors” mechanism, which “raises the concern of the multinationals” present in the region to exploit the huge gas reserves in the depths of the sea.

In a recent statement, Defense Minister Jaime Netto acknowledged that these companies “have called for an increase in the number of soldiers” near the facilities under construction.

“We guarantee the safety of the projects (…) We have enough elements to ensure public order,” he said.

However, many testimonies collected by AFP from security forces indicate a lack of resources.

Destroying two bridges.

“In Makumiya, we all live in panic. We are watching the jihadists attack the city at every moment,” said a policeman. “We lack the equipment” to respond, he added, “and anxiety dominates our nights.”

“We don’t have the means to intercept communications,” said a policeman from the unit charged with special operations deployed on the front lines. He notes that, when there is an attack, “we do not respond immediately” for fear that we will be “less numerous”.

Fleeing service also weakens the security forces. In the capital, Maputo, a police official told France Press, “Many young men (…) are fleeing when they are sent to Cabo Delgado.”

“The chaos is chaotic,” the scene summarizes. “Jihadists are chasing and attacking government forces, not the other way around.”

The escalation of attacks coincides with the rainy season, which negatively affects the logistical activities of the local forces secretly supported by Russian mercenaries.

A military analyst explains that two bridges were finally demolished, cutting the road between Pemba and the north of Cabo Delgado.

He adds that jihadists hiding in the woods “make it difficult for the forces to move (…) and attack when they want.”

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