Mozambique: Three Terrorist Attacks in Palma

Maputo — Terrorist groups in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado launched three attacks in Palma district over the last two days, according to a report in the daily newssheet "Carta de Mocambique".

The first attack was a pre-dawn raid on Monday, against the village of Nalyandele, about 20 kilometres from Palma town. One person was shot dead in his own home. (A report in a second newsheet, "Mediafax", puts the death toll at three, and says that 15 houses were burnt down).

A few hours later, at around 11.00, Malamba village was attacked. One person was murdered and three others (two of them elderly and the third disabled) were kidnapped. The raiders stripped the mother of the young disabled person of all her clothes, leaving her naked in the middle of the road.

At around midday on Tuesday, the terrorists attacked Miando village, about 10 kilometres from the centre of Palma. They burnt down a number of houses, but nobody was killed in the raid.

Members of the Mozambican defence and security forces were seen heading towards Miando, while residents were fleeing from the village in the direction of Palma town.

In addition to raids on villages, there have been attacks against individuals working in the fields. Thus on Monday, in the area of Makanga, near the Rovuma river, three young men collecting firewood were surprised by insurgents. They attempted to escape, but one was shot and then beheaded.

Local people continue to organise resistance to the terrorists, particularly in Nangade district. On Sunday one alleged insurgent was captured and killed near the boundary between Nangade and Mocimboa da Praia districts.

The attacks in Palma must be a serious concern for the government, since this is the district where liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities will be built, to exploit the enormous natural gas deposits discovered in the Rovuma basin off the coast of Cabo Delgado.

Meanwhile, the Cabo Delgado provincial court, sitting in the provincial capital Pemba, has completed its questioning of the accused in the trial of 189 people arrested in connection with the insurgency. The court announced that it will begin hearing witnesses on 19 December.

The trial has been mostly held behind closed doors in clear violation of the constitutional principle that, except under a few limited circumstances (such as cases of rape) trials are open to the public.

It was hoped that the trial might shed some light on the motivations of the terrorist groups, who are believed to be islamic fundamentalists, and on where they draw their support. But such questions remain unanswered.

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