Mozambique: Foreign Support Arrives in Pemba

Two pictures of foreign military support at Pemba airport have been posted on 25 and 24 April by Portuguese journalist Nuno Rogerio on his Facebook. Both are confirmed to be Pemba airport, but without a date.  The first shows the arrival of unidentified African troops.

The second photo shows a drone which he identifies as a Viper 1000/Helix ISR UAS, alongside a Cessna Caravan, both from Ultimate Aviation of South Africa. The Viper is a South African design. The Viper 1000 has night vision capability and comes with command and control centre on a double axle trailer. It has an 18 m wingspan.

Africa Intelligence (22 April) says that President Filipe Nyusi has turned to mercenaries because South Africa, Zimbabwe, Angola and SADC refused requests for help. But apparently no one told the South Africa government and an embarrassed State Security Agency first learned about the Dyck Advisory Group helicopters from video footage on social media.

Foreign aggression?

“The authorship of the attacks has been claimed by the Islamic State, a terrorist organisation, which shows that we are facing foreign aggression perpetrated by terrorists,” declared the National Defence and Security Council (CNDS), a body that advises President Filipe Nyusi, at its 23 April meeting in Maputo. (AIM 24 Apr)

In the attack on Mocimboa da  Praia on 23 March, TVM said that the insurgents included two men "of Asian origin", one of whom was killed by the military. "The presence of Asians contributes definitive proof that the terrorist group acting in Cabo Delgado has strong links with Islamic State," writes the Centro de Estudos Estrategicos e Internacionais (CEEI, Strategic Studies Centre) of Universidade Joaquim Chissano (formerly ISRI, Instituto Superior de Relacoes Internacionais, and with close government links as the diplomatic training institution). CEEI's Security Brief 2 is on (Portuguese only).

CEEI: Strategy only military but army unable to confront insurgents

"Dozens" of government soldiers were killed in the Mocimboa attack, says the CEEI report, in what is perhaps the most candid analysis of government failures to be made by a public institution. It argues that the insurgent "group proved that it is evolving and that it has a great capacity to quickly adapt its tactics, operating modes and military targets," yet the government is failing to win over the population and the military has neither the equipment nor the leadership to defeat the insurgents.

In its analysis of insurgent strategy, CEEI says: "In the beginning, terrorists primarily targeted unguarded villages, considered easy. However, its modus operandi evolved, starting to attack road traffic. In the attack on Mocimboa da Praia, unlike the attacks in the villages, there was no beheading of people as had become usual. In addition, there was a use of heavy artillery. Considering this, we can affirm that the objectives of these attacks were quite clear: 'to show real military strength to the political leadership of the country.' This time the terrorists aimed only at military and economic targets, mainly state institutions. As proof of this, when they arrived, they sent local people away, saying that they only wanted to attack and confront the FDS."  FDS (Forças de Defesa e Segurança) is the defence and security forces, the army as well as the riot police (UIR) who are doing much of the fighting.

Criticisng the govenrment response, CEEI says: "The Mozambican government is conducting a strategy to neutralize terrorist groups that does not match the needs on the ground to isolate groups from their main source of survival: the people. The strategy employed until today only contemplates military actions that involve attacks against terrorist camps and the constant pursuit of terrorists in the bush. Members of the armed group began to circulate in larger groups, with more than 30 men approaching villages without being identified or even being harassed by the armed forces. This reveals an authentic inability of the FDS or, even more serious, a high level of infiltration of the terrorists in the FDS, a high level of complicity of some members of the FDS with the group, or even a sign of incompetence of the commanders seconded to direct the operations in that region. What is most frightening is not simply the government's inability to suppress this genocidal insurgency, but the reports that indicate that the military equipment used is inadequate and outdated. The Mozambican military are inadequately equipped to confront terrorists and there are no signs that the situation will change rapidly."

"It should be noted that the terrorist group intensified the attacks after the FDS started an offensive in the last quarter of 2019, aimed at exterminating the terrorist group and destroying its bases, with the help and support of Russian mercenaries. But the operation failed to kill or capture the insurgents. At the time, the FDS claimed to have caused huge casualties in the group and boasted of the number enemy casualties There was an excess of optimism on the government side as they believed that the situation was under control and there was a relaxation of surveillance that proved fatal. In response, the terrorist group, which previously only attacked villages, started a terror campaign targeting the FDS with ambushes on military patrols and attacks on garrisons, camps and military bases. The attack on FDS positions has become normal and shows that the terrorist group has improved its capabilities. According to sources, the terrorists who attacked the towns of Mocimboa da Praia and Quissanga were heavily armed and briefly took control of the villages in a clear display of strength. According to some military and eyewitnesses who watched the assault in Mocimboa da Praia and Quissanga, terrorists are, in general, better trained and better equipped than government officials and the Army. The return of the FDS to the villages was not result from the deployment of new reinforcements or a counter-offensive, but from the “will” of the terrorists." In other words, the FDS was allowed to return. The report is on

The CEEI report ends by pointedly citing a 2014 US Institute of Peace report "Why do youth join Boko Haram?", which says "Addressing the conditions that make it possible for insurgents to recruit young men in Nigeria can significantly diminish the strength of the insurgency, if not eliminate it altogether."


Pemba. The people of Paquitequete, a dense older neighbourhood on the shore of Pemba, evicted the police in a demonstration on 21 April, which included blocking local streets with burning tyres. Many displaced people fleeing insurgent attacks in Quissanga and Mocimboa da Praia have recently arrived in Paquitequete, and police clearly fear that insurgents could have arrived with the displaced people. On 14 April police illegally detained journalist Izidine Acha, a journalist who photographed them beating a local people - police forced him to delete his pictures, but the beating was filmed: Police have imposed at 19h00 curfew on Pemba (although they have no right to do so) and were trying to enforce it on 21 April when local people resisted. Police fired shots into the air and used tear gas against the crowd, but they proved unable to disperse the protesters, who remained on the road linking Paquitequete to the centre of Pemba. Finally, the police withdrew. (Carta de Mocambique 23 Apr, Moz24h 22 Apr)

Palma. Soldiers shot and killed four named civilians, according to Renamo in its 23 April statement. No date was given. Carta de Mocambique (27 Apr) reports that an important Islamic leader, Sheik Kidume, has been kidnapped. Journalist Ibraimo Mbaruco, apparently kidnapped by the military on 7 April, remains missing.

Beira. Two police have been arrested for beating to death a 44-year old man, Abdul Razak, in Beira on 19 April. Police had dispersed a group of adolescents playing football, in defiance of the rules of the Covid-19 state of emergency. Police picked up their ball, and began to play football themselves. Razak criticised the attitude of the policemen and said he would film them. Two policemen turned on Razak and began beating him with their guns. Passers-by urged the policemen to stop the violence, but they ignored all such appeals. The badly battered Razak was thrown into a cell in the Beira fourth precinct. Three hours later, his relatives found him there and demanded his release. “They demanded beer from us and 300 meticais" ($4.50), said Razak’s sister. “Since we wanted our relative, we paid the money and he was released. But he was very weak and on the way to the hospital he died”. The autopsy says that Razak died of trauma caused by being struck with heavy objects. (AIM 21, 22 Apr; STV 21 Apr)

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