Mozambique: Mocimboa da Praia Still Occupied by Insurgents, Admits FDS

The port and airport of Mocimboa da Praia are still occupied by insurgents and have been since August, the defence forces (FDS) admitted in evidence to a 1st Parliamentary Commission on its recent visit to Cabo Delgado. Insurgents are expanding their control of villages around Mocimboa da Praia. Electricity remains cut to the northern districts because technicians have been unable to repair the substation at Awasse, damaged by the insurgents some months ago. The commission in its report calls the situation "serious". (MediaFax, Zitamar, Lusa 5 Nov)

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However, the map is a catch-up on the war.

+ The area to the right of white dashed line is controlled by insurgents.

+ The purple line thought Macomia to Mocimboa da Praia is the N380, the only paved road to the north, which has been closed for months.

+ The green line is the only remaining road open, a dirt road from Montepuez to Mueda to the gas project at Palma and Afungi. Regular attacks near Pundanhar (the upper star on the map) means vehicles are often prevented from travelling. The road is dirt and will become impassable in late December after the start of the rains, so there is pressure on the FDS to reopen the N380.

+ The other red star is Muidumbe district, which has seen heavy fighting recently.

+ Refugees continue to flee in large number, many by boat down the coast to Pemba.

435,000 refugees

The war has displaced more than 435,000 people, Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario told parliament on 28 October. The largest number flee to Pemba by boat, with hundreds per day arriving on the beach next to Paquitequete neighbourhood. For example, eight boats carrying 335 displaced people arrived at the Paquitequete beach on Friday (6 Nov).

At least 40 refugees drowned when an overloaded boat hit rocks and sank on 1 November between Ibo and Matama islands. Other boats saved 32 people.

Muidumbe heavy fighting

Insurgents took control of much of Muidumbe district, the star on the map between Macomia and Mueda, from 31 October, according to Pinnacle News. At least 40 people have been decapitated, many on a football field in Muatide village.

Intelyse (5 Nov) reported civilians fleeing Mueda town and Macomia town, with people hiding in bushes or in outlying villages. People expect battles between FDS and insurgents in both towns.

Militias from Mueda and Muidumbe districts, led by veterans of the independence war, have been taking an increasing part in the war in Muidumbe, but also leading to confusion. Pinnacle News reports that a group of solders was going to join the battle in Muidumbe, but 30 km from Mueda were confronted by a militia led by a veteran known as "old Almasse". Insurgents are increasingly wearing government military uniforms and driving government vehicles taken from raids on military bases. The militia thought the other group were insurgents, and in the shoot-out, two old independence fighters died.

Tanzania and Pundanhar

Pundanhar was occupied twice and the road from Mueda to Palma closed, around 28 October and 1 November. In both cases insurgents were forced out by military with air support from DAG mercenaries, with significant deaths on both sides. Insurgents ambushed government troops nearby.

Just 20 Km north Pundanhar is the Rovuma River which is the border with Tanzania. Up to 300 insurgents have attacked nearby Tanzanian villages. Tanzanian forces fired rockets into Mozambique. And Tanzania has repatriated 800 Mozambican seeking refuge across the river.

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