Cabo Ligado Weekly: 19 - 25 October 2020

Situation Report
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Cabo Ligado — or ‘connected cape’ — is a conflict observatory monitoring political violence in Mozambique, launched in partnership with Zitamar News, Mediafax, and the International Crisis Group.

Situation Summary

Last week began with a series of supply gathering operations by insurgents that took place across a wide geographic area. On 19 October, insurgents looted supplies from Iba, Meluco district, Olumbua, Macomia district, and Nanhoma, Quissanga district. No arson or casualties were reported in any of the three raids. The raids reflect a growing trend, especially in the southern half of the conflict zone, of insurgents hoarding food and other supplies as Cabo Delgado enters its lean season, when food stores dwindle and it becomes more difficult to gather resources.

Also on 19 October, insurgents entered Koko, Macomia district, kidnapping one civilian and burning several homes. The attackers returned the next day, but were met by government troops. The insurgents retreated after a firefight. No casualties were reported. A source in the area said that local residents are working to form a militia to defend against future attacks.

On 20 October, the same day as the second attack on Koko, insurgents also carried out two attacks just to the south in Meluco district. The attacks on Nangororo and Roma — both of which, like Koko, sit on the N380 — did not produce any casualties, though civilians fled toward Macomia town to avoid further violence.

Insurgents also arrived on Ilha Matemo, Ibo district on 20 October, traveling in two motor boats. While on the island, the attackers killed one man for having a non-Islamic haircut and kidnapped several others, mostly young people. An eyewitness reported that some of the insurgents spoke Kimwani with a Mocimboa da Praia accent and that they urged civilians to live according to Islamic law.

While the insurgents were onshore on Ilha Matemo, Dyck Advisory Group (DAG) helicopters arrived and destroyed the motor boats the insurgents had taken from the mainland to the island. This forced the insurgents to stay the night on Matemo, then attempt to leave early the next morning in local boats. Two of those boats were then also destroyed while at sea by DAG helicopters, killing an unknown number of insurgents and civilian hostages. The pro-government website Noticias de Defesa published photos of burning boats purporting to be those destroyed near Ilha Matemo and claimed that the operation had killed 34 insurgents and injured 69. The report acknowledged that civilian hostages were also killed, but did not specify how many.

On 21 October, insurgents struck across Mozambique’s northern border once again, attacking the Tanzanian border post of Kilambo, about 30 kilometers east of Kitaya, the site of an earlier attack on 14 October. Tanzanian forces repelled the Kilambo attack. No casualties have been reported.

The Tanzanian government also acknowledged the Kitaya attack last week. Tanzanian Inspector General of Police Simon Sirro told reporters that the attack took place and that 300 insurgents were involved. He declined to offer a casualty estimate or any other details.

A new account of insurgent recruitment also emerged last week, with Pinnacle News reporting that a young man in Chiure district was lured into the insurgency after being contacted and paid by mobile phone. He reportedly left his wife and child in Chiure and joined the insurgents in Quissanga district. Upon joining up with the insurgents, he was made to turn over his phone and cut his dreadlocks.