A coordinated series of insurgent attacks since Monday has been aimed at controlling the main N380 road from the Montepuez River to Mocimboa da Praia, to control important ports (Mocimboa da Praia, Mucojo and Quiterajo), and to control an important link to Tanzania. Following the failure of an attack on the Frelimo heartland on the Mueda plateau, taking control of the N380 and the road through Nangade also cuts Mueda's access to the sea.
Mocimboa has been under attack since Tuesday, and electricity and mobile phone service in Mocimboa and Palma have been cut.
Most of this comes from Pinnacle News (https://www.facebook.com/pinnaclenews79) but with enough corroboration to suggest it is approximately correct.
Taking control of the N380 involved a series of attacks by different groups. From South west to northeast:
Koko and Nacate on the N380 in southern Macomia attacked on 12 May. Pinnacle News correspondent writes: Koko is 12 kilometres from the residence of the District Administrator of Macomia. Insurgents entered this village at 2pm and went quietly, burning one by one the remaining houses and granaries, while some occupants watched or fled. Estimated 47 houses burned. Insurgents stayed the night in Koko.
Miengueleua, a large town in south east Muidumbe just over the River Messalo from Macomia, was attacked twice on 11 and 12 May, and houses burned. Insurgents collected weapons and ammunition hidden along the nearby Messalo river. From Miengueleua, the road divides at Xitaxi with one route going to Mueda and Nangade and the other north to where it joins the Mueda-Mocimba road at Auasse (also Oasse, Owasse, Ouasse and Awasse.) The town of Diaca is 10 km to west, toward Mueda.
Auasse, Mocimboa da Praia. Town captured and police station destroyed, 12 May. A major electricity substation which serves both Mocimba and Palma was damaged, cutting electricity to both cities and cutting mobile telephone links since Monday. An armoured car was captured and the photo posted on social media by Islamic State. Believed to be one of the armoured cars donated by China. The armoured car was used to damage two small bridges, including one on the main road, which prevented repair crews from reaching the damaged Auasse substation. Three men decapitated.
Diaca also captured and held for some time; no one was killed but houses were burned and several men were forced to join the insurgents. [Eyewitness account]
Mocimboa da Praia. Several villages attacked on the N380 road from Auasse to Mocimboa. Mocimboa under attack Tuesday and Wednesday. Mocimboa is an important coastal port.
From a widely circulated insurgent video, Pinnacle News identified three local leaders - Mussa and Canimambo from Macomia and Bonomar from Mocimboa da Praia.
Additional attacks have occurred in the past three days in these places:
On the coast of Macomia: In Ingoane, Mucojo and Cruza, Quiterajo, a group of insurgents held public meetings. The group is headed by a local man who took from Cruza his wife and three young children that he had not seen for a year. Mucojo and Quiterajo are important coastal ports, particularly for illegal trade such as timber.
Nangade district has important informal overland links with Tanzania. Attacks along the main road on Ngangolo and Litingina on 11 May, as well as Bairro 1* de Maio, and Chicuaia Nova. There was also an attempt at voluntary and forced recruitment. But military forces successfully confronted the insurgents in Ntipwedi.
Lessons from Boko Haram
Suddenly, a wide range of commentators have correctly noted the similarity of Boko Haram in northern Nigeria and insurgents in northern Mozambique. This has been cited, for example, by US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa, Tibor Nagy (6 May), Daily Maverick (8 May), the BBC (5 May) and the Economist (2 Apr). A study of Boko Haram might help understand what is happening in Cabo Delgado, and a very good new book has just come out: Overcoming Boko Haram, edited by the late Abdul Raufu Mustapha and Kate Meagher.
"While foreign Islamic movements have played a limited role, Boko Haram is first and foremost a homegrown terrorist movement and a political as much as a religious phenomenon," they argue. "Islamic violence in northern Nigeria is simply political violence in a Muslim society, expressing a range of different political meanings from revolution to elite struggles over power to inarticulate social protest."
They stress the importance of poverty and inequality. Borno state were Boko Haram started bears many similarities to Cabo Delgado, with high levels of inequality, poverty, and illiteracy. "Poverty is not just about individual deprivation, but involves a sense of group marginalization amid pervasive economic exclusion and inequality. Similarly, it is poverty and economic injustice rather than doctrine that infuses violent religious ideologies with meaning. … Endemic corruption and state violence not only fuel outrage, but exacerbate conditions of poverty and inequality that are key drivers of radicalization." They point to another issue, namely that the informal economy had been disrupted, intensifying marginalization and disaffection among the poor and even some middle traders, some of whom supported Boko Haram. This also seems to have happened in Cabo Delgado.
6 injured in new Sofala attack. A bus with 40 passengers from Maputo to Quelimane on the EN1 stopped for the night at Mutinidiri, Sofala, because the military will not allow traffic after 17.30. The bus and other vehicles set off at first light on Monday 11 May and was shot at, presumably by the Renamo Junta, in Mozambique's second war. Six passengers were injured by shattered window glass and the bus damaged. (O Pais, Carta 12 May)