Maputo — The Mozambican defence and security forces are in a state of high morale, claimed Defence Minister Jaime Neto on Wednesday, and they are benefiting from technical and material capacity building allowing them to pursue the groups that, over the past three years, have launched terrorist attacks in several districts in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
He was speaking in Morrumbala, in Zambezia province, at the formal launch of the 2021 military registration campaign. In January and February, all Mozambicans who celebrate their 18th birthday this year, are legally obliged to register for military service.
Cited by the daily paper "O Pais", Neto told the ceremony that the Mozambican forces are committed to destroying the terrorists so that Cabo Delgado can once again live in peace and tranquillity.
"The challenge is enormous", he said. "As you know, the enemy is faceless, but we know this is a foreign aggression". The protagonists "come from various African countries. They recruit our young people and radicalise them to undertake activities against Mozambicans, and destroy infrastructures wherever they pass".
The defence forces will not cease their mission to eliminate the enemy, he pledged. He claimed that the Mozambican forces have been successful in preventing the terrorists from occupying parts of Cabo Delgado.
But Neto recognised that the jihadists had penetrated Mocimboa da Praia district, and had been able to establish themselves there for a long time. He denied that Mocimboa da Praia port, seized by the terrorists last August, was still in their hands. Instead, the defence forces were fighting to drive them from the port area, and to repel the terrorists from the entire district.
The governor of Cabo Delgado, Valige Tauabo, visited Palma district on Tuesday to console the victims of last week's terrorist attacks on the villages of Mondlane and Olumbe.
People fleeing from these attacks took refuge in Palma town. Cited by the independent newsheet "Carta de Mocambique", Tauabo told them that the government is doing all in its power to put an end to the terrorist attacks, so that the people of the district can return to their normal activities (mainly farming and fishing).
The islamists have been threatening to attack Palma town - they even gave a date for the attack, 5 January, which may be why the governor chose to visit on that day.
No attack on the town has occurred, but over the New Year many people thought it wiser to leave their homes and sleep in the bush.