21 September 2018

Mozambique: Soldiers Reported Dead in Terrorist Attack

Maputo — An unconfirmed number of Mozambican soldiers died on Thursday morning in an ambush by a terrorist group in Palma district, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, according to a report in Friday's issue of the independent newssheet "Mediafax".

Citing unnamed local sources, the paper said the ambush took place in the administrative post of Pundanhar, where members of the armed forces were patrolling in an armed vehicle. The attackers fired two bazookas at the vehicle and killed some of the occupants. The "Mediafax" source gave no number for the dead, but said they included a Colonel.

Islamic fundamentalists have been waging an insurgency in parts of Cabo Delgado since October 2017. They are generally referred to as "Al Shabaab", but do not seem to have any direct connection with the Somali terrorist group of this name. All the orthodox Islamic organisations in Mozambique have denounced the terrorist group, and say that their actions have nothing to do with islam.

The number of armed incidents in Cabo Delgado seems to have fallen sharply in recent months, but Thursday's attack indicates that the insurgents have not disappeared. After suffering losses at the hands of the defence and security forces, the jihadists are now believed to be moving round in small groups.

Contacted by "Mediafax", the local authorities neither confirmed nor denied the attack. The Palma district administrator, David Machimbuko, said he was on holiday in the provincial capital, Pemba, and so was unaware of the attack. The district police commander did not answer his phone, when the paper tried to contact him, and nor did the spokesperson for the General Command of the police, Inacio Dina.

The last confirmed terrorist attack was a month ago, on 21 August, also in the Pundanhar administrative post. In this attack several houses were burnt down and one person was wounded by a machete. There were no reports of fatalities.

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