Troops are planning an operation to reclaim a strategic port in northern Mozambique captured three weeks ago by jihadists, sources tell. Islamist militants seized Mocimboa da Praia on August 12 following days of attacks, which was the target of a schem...
mozambique, terrorism, jihad
Troops are planning an operation to reclaim a strategic port in northern Mozambique captured three weeks ago by jihadists, sources tell.
Islamist militants seized Mocimboa da Praia on August 12 following days of attacks, which was the target of a scheme to grow offshore gas resources in the area.
A senior military source who asked not to be identified because he is not permitted to talk to the media on Wednesday told AFP that the city is still "not regulated" by the state.
Another source, who also spoke 60 kilometers north of the port in Palma, said on Thursday that Mocimboa da Praia is taking back the "priority" of the military.
"Attempts to retake the town are already underway," a source said Wednesday in the capital Maputo.
Locals have mentioned seeing soldiers moving northward on the highway from Pemba, the capital of the province of Cabo Delgado, to Mocimboa da Praia.
Villagers were also urged by neighborhood leaders to vacate their homes and move to Palma to reduce civilian casualties in the event of clashes.
The loss of Mocimboa da Praia marks the latest phase in a growing insurgency in the north of the country since 2017 that killed over 1,500 people and displaced 250,000 people.
This year it was the second time that the port — the logistical springboard for the Afungi Liquefied Natural Gas ( LNG) project — was occupied, though the previous event only lasted a day or two.
Authorities claim that jihadists live among the local population and that requires a careful response from the military.
"Terrorists are mixing with the people and we can not put the public at risk," said Interior Minister Amade Miquidade during President Filipe Nyusi 's visit to Pemba on Monday.
"That is why the actions of the defense and security forces must be finely calibrated so that they cause the least possible damage to communities."