Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Friday warned Mozambicans, particularly residents of the northern province of Cabo Delgado, not to be deceived by the false promises made by the terrorist groups who have been committing atrocities in Cabo Delgado since last October.
The death toll from these attacks, carried out by islamic fundamentalists known locally as Al-Sunna or Al-Shabaab, now stands at around 100. In some incidents the terrorists have beheaded their victims, in what seems a clear imitation of the self-styled "Islamic State". Several villages have been burnt down, particularly in Macomia district, sending hundreds of people fleeing into towns or to offshore islands.
Speaking at a rally in the town of Palma, the northernmost district in the province, and the one closest to enormous offshore natural gas discoveries, Nyusi described the terrorist attacks as "a new phenomenon". He noted that the attacks had begun last October in Mocimboa da Praia district, and had later spread into Palma, and more recently still into Nangade and Macomia.
Nyusi said the defence and security forces are on the ground to guarantee the security of the people of the province - but the greatest defence of their homes comes from citizens themselves.
Addressing the young people of the province, Nyusi stressed they should not allow themselves to be fooled by promises of eternal happiness.
"It is not true what they say, that you can die on earth but live well up there (in heaven), by killing your father, burning down your father's house", he said, pointing out that those who give such orders are in no danger themselves, since they stay in the rear issuing instructions, while the young people who rush forward end up losing their lives.
He dismissed the jihadist argument that the terrorists use to justify their crimes - namely that their intention is to impose a genuine Islamic religion.
He noted that the terrorists are extending their activities by recruiting people from coastal districts in the neighbouring province of Nampula "to die in Palma".
"Don't let this happen", urged Nyusi. "They are sowing mourning in your families". Some of those drawn into terrorist activities "are young people whom you know. Denounce them very quickly so that we can control the situation".
Members of the public should turn the criminals over to the authorities - Nyusi pledged that nobody will kill them. He said that, of the over 200 suspects captured, those against whom there was no evidence have been set free, while the others have been turned over to the institutions of justice for trials.
As for young jihadists themselves, Nyusi urged them to have no fear about turning themselves in, even if they did not want to reveal who had recruited them. The President also urged parents to take appropriate measures if their sons had gone missing.
Nyusi said the terrorists have run into serious obstacles in their attempts to penetrate certain villages, due to the vigilance of the villagers. "They don't find it easy to get in", he said. "It should also not be easy for them to penetrate Palma. Don't let this happen".
He also took the opportunity to call for increased production as the only way to ensure the well-being of all citizens.
Palma citizens should be patient, he urged, since it will still take same time before the production and export of liquefied natural gas (LNG) begins (the current earliest date for the start of production is 2022). They should also not imagine that Palma district could develop on its own.