Maputo — The Mozambican and South African governments are discussing possible South African assistance for Mozambique's struggle against islamist terrorists in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, according to a report by the Reuters news agency, citing South African foreign minister Naledi Pandor.
Speaking on the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) on Saturday, Pandor said the two governments were discussing what type of assistance South Africa could provide. She did not make it clear whether such assistance might include sending South African troops to Mozambique, though Pandor said she understood Mozambique made use of "private security providers" (a euphemism for mercenaries).
Pandor's cautious comments follow last Tuesday's meeting in Harare of the troika of the defence and security body of SADC (Southern Africa Development Community) held at Mozambique's request. At the end of the meeting, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who currently holds the rotating presidency of the troika, declared "Any attack on one SADC member is an attack on the other members", said Mnangagwa.
The final statement from the SADC meeting made no specific commitments, but urged all SADC member states to support the Mozambican government in its struggle against the terrorist groups operating in Cabo Delgado.
Terrorist raids begin in the province in October 2017, with attacks against police premises in Mocimboa da Praia district. In the ensuing two and a half years, the attacks have spread to several more districts in the northern part of Cabo Delgado. They have been characterized by the wholesale destruction of villages and the beheading of civilians.
The terrorists are commonly referred to as "Al Shabaab", although they seem to have no organizational link with the Somali group of that name. They have also gone by the name Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama.
In recent months, attacks in Cabo Delgado have been claimed by the international terrorist organization Islamic State (also known as ISIS, or Daesh). Videos of attacks on small Cabo Delgado towns have appeared in Islamic State media outlets, and the raiders have sometimes flown the black flag of Islamic State.