Maputo — The Mozambican Defence and Interior Ministers, Amade Miquidade and Jaime Neto, are visiting the northern province of Cabo Delgado to assess the situation after islamist insurgents seized the town of Mocimboa da Praia on Monday.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, after the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), the government spokesperson, Deputy Justice Minister Filimao Suaze, said the terrorists had pulled out of the town later on Monday, after they had "destroyed public and private infrastructures".
As they withdrew, they left behind "trails of human blood", he claimed, supposedly that of the insurgents themselves.
Once the raiders had gone, Suaze, added, the movement of people in the town resumed, albeit timidly. Work is now under way to discover how many people died in the attack, and whether any residents of Mocimboa da Praia were kidnapped. An assessment of the physical damage is also under way.
Local sources cited by the independent newsheet "Carta de Mocambique", said that the terrorists took up their initial positions at about midnight on Sunday, and then launched their incursion into the town at around 03.00 on Monday. They attacked members of the defence and security forces, burnt down public and private buildings, as well as private and state-owned vehicles.
These sources say that, contrary to police claims made in Maputo press conferences, the government's forces did not exchange fire with the insurgents throughout the day. Instead they abandoned their positions, thus allowing the attackers to hoist their flag over the barracks of the defence forces.
This is the black flag of the terrorist organisation, known as "Islamic State", ISIS or Daesh, and sadly familiar from the ISIS reign of barbarism in parts of Iraq and Syria.
Among the buildings destroyed, said the newsheet's sources, were the Municipal Council, the official residences of the district administrator and of the Mayor of Mocimboa da Praia, the district police command, the barracks of the armed forces (FADM), the FADM residential building, the small Mocimboa da Praia port, the local filling station, and branches of the banks BCI, Millennium-BIM and ABSA.
As for vehicles, trucks belonging to the company Lalgy Transport, and buses of the firm Nagi Investments were burnt out, as were government vehicles. The insurgents stole an armoured car and several cars and motor-bikes belonging to private individuals.
The sources mentioned two civilian deaths (a woman and a child), but did not know if there were any fatalities among the defence forces or the terrorists themselves.
According to the Reuters news agency, ISIS/Islamic State on Wednesday claimed responsibility for the attack on Mocimboa da Praia, saying that the raiders had killed dozens of Mozambican soldiers and policemen.