Maputo — The Mozambican defence and security forces have gone onto the offensive against terrorist groups in the districts of Mocimboa da Praia and Macomia, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, and have inflicted severe losses on the insurgents, according to a report in Friday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique.
The Mozambican forces have been shelling bases of the insurgents since Saturday, and on Monday, in a surprise night raid against the Marere base in Mocimboa da Praia, they killed more than 30 insurgents.
The newsheet's sources say that in this clash two Russian soldiers were killed. The Russians are not from the official armed forces of the Russian Federation but from the para-military "Wagner Group".
"Carta de Mocambique" cites what it describes as "reliable sources" who say that on Tuesday a Russian ship entered the port of Nacala carrying "more than 17 containers" of military equipment.
Terrorist bases have been repeatedly shelled in recent days, the paper says, leading many of the insurgents to flee into the bush. The Mozambican forces are now using drones to follow terrorist movements.
It was through drones that a group of nine insurgents was located in Mbau, in Mocimboa da Praia. They were captured, but later killed and their bodies burnt, according to the paper's sources.
The military offensive seems to enjoy popular support. When, on Wednesday, two insurgents went to a barber's shop in Miangelewa village, in Muidumbe district, they were discovered by local residents, despite their attempt at disguise, and were handed over to the police.
Citizens in Mocimboa da Praia and in the provincial capital Pemba told reporters they were pleased with the offensive against the insurgents. They wanted to see the situation change definitively because the actions of the terrorists "were too much".
This time the defence forces are trying to avoid civilian casualties. The paper reports that, in the Mucojo administrative post of Macomia district, civilians were removed to a distance of 30 kilometres from the insurgent base the forces planned to attack.
Although the insurgent group, which began its raids two years ago, in October 2017, is known locally as "Al-shabaab", it does not seem to have any formal connection with the Somali terrorist group of that name. Its leaders have never shown their faces, and have not even issued a manifesto or list of demands. They are known to be inspired by Islamic fundamentalism, and want to impose Sharia Law on Mozambique.