Mozambique: 'Most Important Mission Yet to Come', Says Army Commander

Maputo — The commander of the Mozambican army, Maj-Gen Cristovao Chume, interviewed on Tuesday by the public television station TVM, in the town of Mocimboa da Praia, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, stressed that "the most important mission" of the current Mozambican/Rwandan offensive against the islamist terrorists of ISIS is yet to come.

The allied forces seized control of the town of Mocimboa da Praia from ISIS on Sunday, after it had been in terrorist hands for almost exactly a year.

Chume said the forces would now move south-west from Mocimboa da Praia into the dense bush around Mbau locality and the main ISIS bases known as Siri 1 and Siri 2. This advance could happen later in the week. Currently aerial and artillery bombardments of ISIS positions are under way "so as to give no rest to the enemy".

Chume said that, once Mocimboa da Praia had been taken the bodies of 33 dead terrorists were counted. The allied side suffered no casualties at all, "not even a scratch", he claimed.

But Chume admitted that most of the terrorists had pulled out of the town before the final Mozambican/Rwandan advance.

"The enemy had very strong positions here", he said, "but they knew they could not offer great resistance, because they had already lost strategic positions outside of Mocimboa da Praia town such as Awasse, Mumu, Tchinga, Quelimane and Maputo (the last named are villages, not to be confused with the cities of the same names)"

"When we took those positions, which served as a buffer zone, the enemy understood it had no alternative but to leave", said Chume. So inside the town "the enemy offered little resistance. If they had wanted to continue fighting, they would have been totally eliminated".

Giving details about the operation to retake the town, he said that, at about 07.00 on Sunday Mozambican marines landed on the coast, and seized Mocimboa da Praia port. A second Mozambican contingent landed south of the port and advanced towards the town, converging with columns of the Rwandan forces who marched from Awasse in the west, and from Palma district in the north. By 11.00 the allied forces were in full control of the town.

Little of value is left in Mocimboa da Praia. ISIS had destroyed all the machinery that guaranteed the normal functioning of the port. Significant public and private buildings were reduced to ruins as was the airport terminal.

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