Mozambique

Cabo Ligado Weekly: 7-13 September 2020

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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

Insurgents in Cabo Delgado were active last week, with 17 insurgency related events reported across three districts in Mozambique’s troubled northeastern province. Little, if any, territory changed hands, but insurgents did seem to strengthen their hold on the area around Mocimboa da Praia town, while at the same time working to cut off Palma town from the rest of the province.

On 7 September, in Rueia, Macomia district, insurgents burned several homes and made off with chickens and goats from the village. The attacks in coastal Macomia district continued on 8 September, when insurgents entered Olumboa in the early evening. The villagers fled into nearby mangroves, but insurgents still managed to injure one villager and kidnap a number of women. The attackers then reportedly burned 72 homes in the village, leaving just three standing, and stole three dhows. That night, insurgents also arrived in nearby Nambo, temporarily capturing two local government officials. The officials were able to get away when an armed man appeared. The insurgents captured and beheaded the man. They then burned many homes, killing a young woman who was sleeping in one of the houses. Government troops engaged the insurgents as they were leaving Nambo, but no casualties were reported.

The next day, 9 September, insurgents again struck nearby, this time at the village of Pamuto. No details are yet available on the Pamuto attack. In Palma district, insurgents entered Ilha Vamize for the second time in five days. Arriving by rowboat, insurgent fighters gathered up local civilians and told them to flee the island. The attackers then burned a number of homes and killed a displaced person who was living on the island after he recognized members of the raiding party. A raid on Ilha Metundo was also reported that day, with homes burned, but no casualties reported.

Insurgent raiding resumed on 10 September in Mocimboa da Praia district. That night, insurgents entered the village of Maputo, which sits on the road north from Mocimboa da Praia town towards Palma, near the district border. The attackers burned homes, and civilians escaped up the road towards Muite, Palma district. On the same day, insurgents also attacked Tete and Namaringa villages, both on that same northern road in Mocimboa da Praia district. They clashed with government forces there, leading to unknown casualties on both sides.

By 11 September, insurgents were back on Ilha Vamizi, with seven attackers arriving by motorized dhow. There were no injuries in the raid, but insurgents burned about 30 homes and looted a tourist site.

Insurgents were also targeting the western route into Palma on 11 September, adding to the pressure they had already applied to the southern route into the town. That day, insurgents attacked a village near Pundanhar, western Palma district, and ambushed two vehicles on the road. No casualty reports have yet emerged from those attacks. The next day, the shooting near Pundanhar continued, with insurgents holding up three vehicles carrying passengers and goods westbound from Palma towards Mueda. In one ambush, about 30 kilometers west of Palma town, a vehicle was destroyed and two Somali passengers beheaded. In another, closer to Pundanhar, two trucks were forced off the road. A military source told Agence France-Presse that two passengers died and many were injured when one of the trucks hit a tree. The trucks had been traveling without an escort, the source said, because security forces “assumed that the route was safe.” Following the attacks, civilian transport stopped between Palma and points west. Insurgents also continued their attacks on the southern route to Palma on 12 September, injuring two civilians in a raid on Maganja, Palma district. Maganja sits near the tip of the Afungi peninsula, where the French energy major Total’s liquified natural gas project infrastructure is based.

Fighting also continued on the N380 toward Mocimboa da Praia town on 12 September, as government forces attempted to move toward Mocimboa da Praia from Awasse only to be met by insurgent forces at Manilha, roughly 15 kilometers from Mocimboa da Praia. Fighting at Manilha was reportedly intense, but no information has yet emerged about the outcome of the clash. As of reports on 12 September, insurgents were maintaining a steady presence in Mocimboa da Praia town.