Posted April 7, 2021 5:18 pm by

Maputo, Mozambique, April 7 – Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday said Islamic State-linked insurgents had been forced out of Palma, a northern town hit in a brazen raid last month that left dozens of dead and forced thousands from their homes.

In his first substantive public comment on the attack, Nyusi said “the terrorists have been chased from Palma,” but added: “We do not declare victory, because we are fighting terrorism.”

Nyusi — speaking on the eve of a regional summit on the crisis — said his government had made requests for help. He did not give details.

“Our government has already expressed its needs to the international community to deal with terrorism. This international support… is being evaluated,” he said, in an address to mark Mozambique’s national women’s day.

“Those who come from outside will not come to replace us,” he added. “They will come to support us. It is not about empty pride. It is about a sense of sovereignty”.

Insurgents seized Palma, a coastal town close to a multi-billion-dollar liquid natural gas (LNG) project, after a coordinated attack launched on March 24.

They vandalised a hospital and torched banks and a prosecutor’s office, state television TVM said at the weekend.

Broadcast images of the aftermath showed military guarding the streets as a few remaining residents picked through debris. One soldier pulled black plastic sheeting over a dead body lying on the floor.

The assault claimed dozens of lives, according to the authorities, while the UN’s refugee agency (UNHCR) says more than 11,000 were forced to flee.

Many walked for days through the forest with little food and water before reaching neighbouring districts, where aid groups are providing humanitarian assistance.

Hundreds of others crossed into southern Tanzania, from where they have been forcibly returned, according to the UNHCR.  

French energy giant Total has meanwhile pulled out all its staff from the LNG plant on the Afungi peninsula, viewed as a cornerstone project for the Mozambican economy.

The UN also suspended evacuation flights out of Afungi, where thousands of escapees gathered to seek shelter, citing security concerns. 

– Emergency talks –

Nyusi vowed to “overcome terrorism” and said the government was working to upgrade training and equipment for its military.

Mozambique’s authorities have repeatedly assured Palma is fully back in government hands — a claim disputed by several analysts and security sources.

Six southern African presidents are to meet in the Mozambican capital Maputo on Thursday for emergency talks on the crisis and “deliberate on measures Read More…