Maputo — The Mozambican defence and security forces have killed at least 15 alleged terrorists who were trying to cross the Rovuma river into Tanzania, according to a report in Thursday's issue of the independent newsheet "Carta de Mocambique".
The paper's sources said those shot dead were part of a group that had recently been dislodged from a terrorist base. They headed north, and the defence forces caught up with them on the south bank of the Rovuma, in the Pundanhar administrative post in Palma district.
"Carta de Mocambique" did not give an exact date for the clash, but it may have been one of the operations mentioned by President Filipe Nyusi in his address to the nation last Sunday, when he said that, following the defeat of the jihadists' latest attacks against Palma town, "patrolling and clean-up operations are continuing along the Quionga-Pundanhar axis (north of the town)".
"Carta de Mocambique" also reports that terrorists attacked the villages of Mandimba and Chacamba, in Nangade district, on Tuesday. The number of deaths in these raids has yet to be confirmed. Survivors from the two villages fled to Nangade town.
In the locality of Chai, in Macomia district, there was an intensive exchange of fire between the islamists and local militia. The terrorists set one vehicle on fire, but if they intended to occupy Chai, they failed.
Chai is of historic importance, since it is the site of the first clash between guerrillas of the Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) and the Portuguese authorities on 25 September 1964, at the start of the war for Mozambican independence.
Meanwhile, on the Cabo Delgado coast, a humanitarian crisis is developing in Ibo district, formed by several of the islands in the Qurimbas archipelago. Thousands of people have fled from terrorist attacks on the mainland to the islands, where they are living under miserable conditions, desperately short of food and clean water.
Matemo island has become home for many of the displaced people who fled from Palma after the terrorist attack on the town on 24 March.
Speaking to the independent television station STV, one of the displaced, Sumail Saide, said "I came to Matemo 27 days ago, with my wife and four children, and we never received any aid. We eat thanks to some people who occasionally give us a kilo of rice or flour. And when there is nothing, we all go to sleep hungry".
The displaced in Matemo have no decent accommodation. Most of them sleep in improvised shacks with thatched roofs. They also have no access to basic social services. Halima Saide, a woman who was displaced from Palma, told STV "there is a small health post, but it's far away, and doesn't have enough medicines. Pregnant women can't manage to walk there. We have no school here, and so the children have stopped studying".
The Ibo district government admits that, even with the assistance of some humanitarian organisations, it cannot solve the problems of the 35,000 displaced people now living on the islands.
"We can't deal with all the problems", said the Ibo district administrator, Issa Tarmamade, "because of the large number of displaced people, and they all need a little of everything. People are arriving at Matemo every day".
Luisa Meque, the chairperson of the Mozambican relief agency, the National Risk and Disaster Management Institute (INGD) visited the islands this week, and promised solutions for the displaced.
"We came here to assess the situation, and now we know the reality experienced here on Matemo", said Meque. "We shall seek immediate solutions".