Maputo — Armed attacks in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, by gangs believed to be Islamic fundamentalists, have now spread to the district of Macomia, according to a report in Wednesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Mediafax".
A week ago a group of young men armed with guns and knives attacked Ilala, a coastal locality in Macomia. They demanded that a local fisherman ferry them to a nearby island, and when he refused they slit his throat. A second person was also killed in Ilala, but few other details are available.
On Sunday, a bus carrying carrying passengers between Nampula city and the Cabo Delgado district of Mocimboa da Praia, came under attack, but there are no reports of deaths.
Mocimboa da Praia has been the epicentre of an islamist insurgency that broke out with coordinated attacks on three Mocimboa da Praia police installations on 5 October last year. Most subsequent attacks have been in Mocimboa da Praia with an occasional incursion into the neighbouring districts of Palma and Nangade. This is the first time an attack has been reported from Macomia.
Defence Minister Atanasio M'tumuke went to Macomia this week, and called on the local population to assist the defence and security forces in the fight against what he called "bandits".
Visiting Ilala, M'tumuke recalled that three years 21 local youths had disappeared, and he believed they were now in the ranks of the terrorists.
He said the security forces have been chasing one armed group from camp to camp, and have so far destroyed eight of their camps. M'tumuke said that in the latest clash some 200 women "who used to give food to the bandits took the opportunity to escape. Today there are no women with this group. Some of their leaders have also disappeared".
At the meeting with M'tumuke, Ilala residents also asked the authorities for protection so that they can harvest their crops safely.