Maputo — The Mozambican police on Tuesday confirmed that jihadist terrorists have returned to villages in the northern province of Cabo Delgado which had been believed free of the terrorist threat.
According to the Cabo Delgado provincial police commander, Vicente Chicote, cited in Wednesday's issue of the independent newssheet "Mediafax", on 20 May terrorists attacked the Quinto Congresso, Nova Zambezia and Nkoe villages, all located in Macomia district
In the fields of Nkoe, they beheaded three people and kidnapped an unspecified number of other villagers. They then moved on to the Nguida area where they disembowelled several people (Chicote did not give an exact number),
By 22 May, the same jihadist group had reached Chicomo village where they exchanged shots with a unit of the defence and security forces stationed there. Chicote said they burnt down houses and then retreated into the bush. But later they returned to Chicomo, and there was a second clash.
Chicote also confirmed an attack against Olumbi, in Palma district. Palma is where a consortium headed by the French oil and gas company TotalEnergies intends to set up natural gas liquefaction plants. But TotalEnergies evacuated its staff from the district after a terrorist attack on Palma town on 24 March last year, and they will not return until the security situation is fully under control.
Mozambican and Rwandan forces had driven the terrorists out of the town last year, but the attack on Olumbi suggests that clearing the jihadists out of the areas is not yet complete.
People displaced from their homes in the Macomia villages by terrorist raids had been gradually returning. But the attacks on 20 May are likely to dissuade people from returning - indeed, that may have been the intention.
Local officials in the public administration are also reluctant to return. The Mocimboa da Praia and Muidumbe district governments have ordered state employees to return to work, but many have refused to do so. According to the newssheet "Carta de Mocambique", more than half the state employees in Muidumbe have not yet returned to work.
The Secretary of State for Cabo Delgado, Antonio Supeia, visited the Muidumbe district capital, Namacunde, last Friday, and found that only 350 public servants, out of the 900 in the district, had so far returned to work.