Maputo — Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi on Sunday attacked what he called "currents of disinformation" about the fight waged by the defence and security forces against the terrorist groups operating in parts of the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
Speaking to the troops at a military base in the Cabo Delgado town of Mueda, Nyusi said such disinformation "shows a lack of respect for those who are sacrificing their lives in defence of the communities".
"We are accompanying the attacks of the criminals and your response", he continued, "because we have noted that the enemy strategy is to put us in conflict with our people".
He deplored the fact that the insurgents have been using the same uniforms as the Mozambican forces, in order to make people believes that the attacks were perpetrated by the Mozambican army and police.
Nyusi said it would be senseless for the defence and security forces to make enormous sacrifices to protect the public, and then "to attack our own people, the people whom we have been defending".
Some people who think like this, he continued, live a good life in the cities "but they are spreading messages against sovereignty, without being aware of the great sacrifices that are being made".
He did not state precisely what "disinformation" he had in mind, but videos have appeared on social media supposedly showing the insurgents waving the flag of the self-styled "Islamic State", and using captured police vehicles. Islamic State (or Isis) has claimed responsibility for several attacks, but there is no evidence of any chain of command between Isis and the Cab Delgado terrorists.
Nyusi encouraged the government forces to take the offensive against the insurgents. "Remain firm and disciplined, although the enemy manoeuvres will always shock you", he said. "We are with you, the country is with you".
He said he had come to Cabo Delgado "to give you strength, and to say that, as a government, in this new cycle of governance that has begun, we want to prioritise your activities and to recognise increasingly your efforts".
The insurgency, apparently inspired by Islamic fundamentalism, began in October 2017, but to date its leadership has not shown their faces, or published any manifesto or set of demands. Nyusi said it is important that the government forces locate the terrorists in order to understand their origins, and then make a more objective analysis of the situation.
"This is because, in a house where we don't know who the thief is, people begin to distrust each other", he said. "We want to build trust and go forward to face a common enemy".
At the end of this military parade, Nyusi ate lunch with the troops, joining them in the queue for a plate of fish and rice.