Maputo — The terrorist raid on the town of Quissanga, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, on Wednesday morning, cost the lives of six members of the defence and security forces, according to a report in Thursday's issue of the independent newssheet "Carta de Mocambique".
The paper's sources said the attack began at about 04.00, and the islamist raiders withdrew at around 11.00.
They occupied the residence of the Quissanga district administrator, and destroyed the district police command. A number of public and privately owned vehicles were burnt out. It is not yet clear how many civilians died in the attack, but some people had already left the town, fearing a raid after the terrorists had attacked the village of Mussomero, seven kilometres from the town, on Tuesday.
A Quissanga resident, cited by a second newssheet "Mediafax", said "people were alarmed when, on late Tuesday afternoon, the news circulated that the insurgents had kidnapped some people in a nearby village".
Fear had gripped Quissanga since the attack on the nearby town of Bilibiza in January, in which the terrorists destroyed much of the Bilibiza Agricultural Institute, which is run by the Aga Khan Foundation. Many of the public institutions in the district capital had been paralysed since that attack.
When they seized the Quissanga police command on Wednesday, masked bandits posed in front of the building, some of them waving guns or the black flag of the international terrorist group that calls itself the Islamic State, or ISIS. They looted arms and ammunition from the police command.
The people of Quissanga have fled, some by land to Metuge district, and others by boat to the island of Ibo.
Some more details have become available about the attack against the town of Mocimboa da Praia, on Monday. "Mediafax" reports that the raiders damaged the town's aerodrome, which had been reopened in February 2018 by the then Transport Minister Carlos Mesquita.
International flights could land at the aerodrome, which was intended to carry equipment needed by the companies exploiting the vast natural gas reserves in the Rovuma Basin, off the Cabo Delgado coast.
However, the Mocimboa da Praia aerodrome has ceased to be crucial for hydrocarbon logistics, because a new three kilometre runway, long enough to cater for Boeing-737s, has been opened in the Afungi Peninsula, where the liquefied natural gas (LNG) factories will be built.
To make matters worse for the authorities, the road linking the south of Cabo Delgado to the northern districts is once again impassable. A bridge over the Montepuez river collapsed on 27 December, because of erosion (the river had scooped out the soil from around two pillars on the southern side of the bridge).
An attempt to set up an alternative crossing on an improvised causeway upstream from the collapsed bridge only worked for a few days in late January. But at the end of the month, the Montepuez rose again, and the waters swept over the causeway.
It was rebuilt and has been operating since late February, but it has now collapsed again, apparently because a truck disregarded the weight limit of 15 tonnes.