30 April 2018

Mozambique: New Islamist Attacks in Cabo Delgado

Four new Islamist attacks were reported in coastal northern Cabo Delgado. There have been on-going incidents, mainly in Mocimboa da Praia district where the first attacks against police took place on 5 October.

The first attack was at 1 am on Sunday 15 April, when a group attacked the village of Ncumbi, in Palma district. According to MediaFax the raiding party consisted of about ten men, one armed with a machine gun and the others carrying machetes. When a local trader refused to let them into his stall, they burned it down and took a machete and disembowelled the trader. Then they attacked a second shop and stole all the produce sold there. The attack came on the final day of a visit to Cabo Delgado by President Filipe Nyusi, and just hours before he visited Palma town.

The next attack occurred on Friday 20 April on the village of Diaca Velha, Mocimboa da Praia, near the boundary with Nangade district. Food and other goods were taken, with several people reported killed.

The next day Mangwaza village in Palma district was attacked, with one person killed, four houses burnt down and more food taken. The following day the group returned to Diaca Velha, and the local population abandoned their homes, fleeing to the nearby village of Awassi. Three people are missing, believed to have been kidnapped.

The attacks were reported in MediaFax (in turn republished by Aim En and Rhula). MediaFax reports security forces pursued the group and captured 30 people.

Shortly before the new attacks, the Cabo Delgado provincial attorney’s office reported that it had remitted to the provincial court the case against 234 people arrested after the earlier attacks, 32 of whom are Tanzanian nationals. They are accused of crimes including first degree murder, mercenarism and the illegal possession and use of firearms; 155 of the accused are in preventive detention, while the other 79 have been released conditionally and are awaiting trial at home.

Police spokesperson Inacio Dina on 24 April dismissed the reports of the recent attacks, saying there has only been "criminal" attacks and not Islamist incidents. But two days later Defence Minister Atanasio M’tumuke declared that it is imperative for Mozambique and Zambia to direct their attentions to the fight against terrorism, before the current terrorist nuclei become “active cells” that can spread throughout southern Africa. M’tumuke told the meeting of the Mozambique-Zambia Joint Defence and Security Commission in Bilene, Gaza, that terrorism “is currently the most significant threat to national and continental security”.

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