Maputo — The terrorist groups that have been waging war in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado since October 2017 on Monday morning attacked and occupied parts of the town of Mocimboa da Praia.
At the time of writing, fighting is continuing between the insurgents and the Mozambican defence and security forces.
According to a report in the electronic version of the independent daily "O Pais", the attack began shortly before dawn, at around 04.00.
Some eye-witnesses, cited by the paper, said the shooting began in the Pamunda neighbourhood, and then spread out across the town, which was virtually under siege.
One resident said "when I heard the first shots, I was preparing to go to the mosque, and I didn't have time to escape into the bush. Now I and my family are locked up inside the house".
Other sources, say that some of the attackers came by boat, and occupied the Milamba neighbourhood. One eye-witness said "they came before dawn in boats. Then they began to shoot. They passed by my house heading towards the centre of the town. They were praying and carrying black flags, written in Arabic".
The spokesperson for the General Command of the Mozambican police, Orlando Mudumane, confirmed the attack. He told reporters in Maputo that the terrorists had attacked the barracks of the defence forces, where they had hoisted their flag.
Mudumane said the insurgents had thrown up barricades on the main roads leading into the town, which they fully controlled.
He added that efforts are now under way to restore public order and security. The defence and security forces had deployed units at various points and continued to exchange fire with the terrorists. Mudumane was confident that they would soon be able to restore security to the town.
"O Pais" reported that some of those who came by sea have returned to their boats and left the area.
The initial attacks by the insurgents, who are inspired by Islamic fundamentalism, came on 5 October 2017 against police facilities in Mocimboa da Praia district. Subsequently the terrorist raids have spread across other districts in the northern part of Cabo Delgado.
The insurgents have never published any manifesto or list of demands, and their leaders have yet to show their faces in public.