Maputo — Unidentified armed men killed one person in an attack on Monday night against the village of Chitolo in Mocimboa da Praia district, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado.
According to a report on Radio Mozambique, units of the defence and security forces have now gone to protect the village from further attack. The radio account said the raiders had burnt down 50 houses, but the district permanent secretary, Rosa Pilale, put the number of houses destroyed at only five.
It is assumed that those who attacked Chitolo are part of the same Islamic fundamentalist group who launched armed operations against the government on 5 October last year. The group, known locally as “Al-Shabaab” (but apparently not directly connected with the Somali terrorist organisation of the same name), has carried out sporadic raids in Mocimboa da Praia and the neighbouring districts of Palma and Nangade.
This is the first attack in two months, and shows that the islamist group is still operational, despite the police announcing in January that they had arrested over 300 people suspected of links with the group.
The group has made demands typical of fundamentalists across the globe, calling for the imposition of sharia law, a ban on the sale of alcohol, and the removal of Christian crosses and secular monuments.
Orthodox moslem organisations have condemned the Mocimboa da Praia raids, stressing that they have nothing to do with violence and terrorism. Local islamic leaders in Mocimboa da Praia point out that they had warned the government about the fundamentalist group, but it took no action, until the attacks against police premises on 5 October.