Maputo — Islamist terrorists attacked six villages in Muidumbe district, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado over the weekend, according to a report in Monday's issue of the independent newssheet "Mediafax".
The terrorists, who are aligned with the network that calls itself the "Islamic State Central Africa Province" (ISCAP), sacked the Muidumbe district headquarters in April, but since then the district has been fairly calm.
Last week, the Muidumbe district administrator, Saide Aly Chabane, ordered all public employees who abandoned their posts earlier in the year because of the terrorist attacks to return to work, on the grounds that a climate of security had returned to the district. Those who failed to return to work risked being marked absent and losing their wages.
Chabane spoke too soon for, according to the "Mediafax" report, on Saturday morning the terrorists raided the Muidumbe villages of Magaia, Nchinga, Namacunde, 24th March, Muatide and Muambula.
By 11.00 that morning, according to sources in the provincial capital, Pemba, who had been in contact with relatives in Muidumbe, the attackers had beheaded at least five villagers and had kidnapped an unspecified number of children from Nchinga.
Later, three deaths were confirmed in Muatide and one in 24th March. The terrorists also burnt down an unspecified number of houses. They may also have sabotaged the communications infrastructure. "Mediafax" noted that, after midday on Saturday, mobile phone communication with Muidumbe became very difficult.
The raids on Muidumbe villages may be retaliation for the offensive early last week by the defence and security forces against the terrorists' main base, a complex of camps known as "Base Syria" in Mocimboa da Praia district. According to figures given by the general commander of the Mozambican police, Bernadino Rafael, the Mozambican forces killed 108 terrorists in these operations.
Meanwhile the Cabo Delgado provincial governor, Valige Tauabo, has warned that the 2020-2021 agricultural campaign in the province has been compromised because thousands of peasant farmers have fled from the terrorist attacks.
According to the daily paper "O Pais", Tauabo, speaking at the launch of the agricultural campaign last week, admitted that the districts affected by terrorism would harm the ability to meet this year's agricultural targets. He did not, however, give any figures for how much production would be lost because of the attacks.
The central government member sent to Cabo Delgado to open the campaign, the Minister of Economy and Finance, Adriano Maleiane, said that in 2019 production was hit not only by terrorist raids, but also by flooding and by a range of insect pests.
It had been planned to cultivate 574,916 hectares, but only about 569,000 hectares were sown, a loss of over 5,900 hectares.