Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi made a surprise visit on Friday to units of the defence and security forces stationed in the districts of Mocimboa da Praia and Palma in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
These districts have been repeatedly hit by terrorist raids perpetrated by armed groups believed to be inspired by Islamic fundamentalism.
Nyusi announced that the defence forces in Cabo Delgado are being strengthened, and will guarantee that citizens can resume a normal life in villages threatened by the terrorist groups. Interacting with the civilian population, Nyusi stressed that the government forces are determined to displace the attackers from all of their hideouts in the province.
Cited in Monday's issue of the Maputo daily "Noticias", Nyusi recalled that several terrorist bases have been overrun by the defence forces. Most recently they had captured a base in Nangade district where they killed seven terrorists and captured a number of others. Nyusi said this action resulted from cooperation between the defence forces and the public.
He said that some of the criminals, who go from district to district recruiting people into the insurgency, kill their own fathers, mothers and brothers. Vigilance was thus necessary, he stressed, and any pertinent information should be communicated to the defence and security forces.
"The enemy is faceless", said the President. "perhaps some of them are here listening to us, and later they'll come here to burn down houses. So it's important to know who is who, to know who any new person is and where he comes from. We don't have much information and we need more information".
But Nyusi was convinced that the threat originated from outside Mozambique. He told the crowd that when the first insurgents were captured, it was found they did not speak the country's official language, Portuguese, or any Mozambican language.
Nyusi regarded this as an indication that they were recruited outside the country, with the sole purpose of destabilising Mozambique to hold up its development plans.
"We cannot think that these attacks are ordered by Mozambicans", he said. "Mozambique has many enemies. To understand the motive for this phenomenon, we went to Tanzania, to Kenya and also to Rwanda. We saw that these countries too are facing this phenomenon. This situation needs the union of all the countries affected". The attacks should be faced with intelligence, "in order to have clarity about who the enemy is".
"The first ones we caught, we saw they weren't Mozambicans", said the President. The government thought they came from Congo or elsewhere on the continent, a suspicion boosted by the recent discovery of Ugandans fighting for the insurgents.