Maputo — THE recent beheading of an oil worker by an Islamist roup in Mozambique indicates a shift of the militants' mode of operation since such attacks first erupted in late 2017.
This is according to experts after suspected Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa (ASWJ) fighters conducted several coordinated attacks on members of an international oil company and on villages north of the country.
The most severe attack saw a worker of the American company, Anadarko, beheaded on the road between the port city of Mocimboa da Praia and the Afungi peninsula, which is the company's liquified natural gas construction site.
A convoy was besieged leading to the death of the work.
Six workers were injured in another convoy attack.
The Armed Conflict Location and Events Dataset (ACLED) noted the insurgents' mode of operation had shifted from hit-and-run attacks on villages at night to higher-impact attacks on convoys in broad daylight.
"And in their tactics, they have placed themselves as a strategic threat to the development goals of the country by targeting the billion-dollar international natural gas exploration projects ongoing in the region," ACLED stated.
The violence has left an estimated 150 people dead and scores kidnapped. Villages have been looted and burnt down.
The latest events will likely trigger a scaling up of the military's response to the insurgency in the coming weeks.
Human rights groups have accused the state security forces of human rights violations and intimidating, detaining and prosecuting journalists covering the fighting against the terrorist sect in Cabo Delgado.
Mozambique was previously plunged into civil conflict early 1990s when Mozambican National Resistance (RENAMO) led by Afonso Dhlakama took up arms to fight the Mozambican government.
More than 10,000 people were killed while more than one million others were displaced.
Dhlakama died last year.