Mozambique officials say at least 36 militants killed in military operation

Mozambican soldiers

Mozambican soldiers are seen leaving a plane parked on the tarmac of the airport in Pemba on March 31, 2021. 

Photo credit: AFP

Mozambique authorities said Friday that at least 36 suspected militants were killed by the soldiers during a security operation in Palma.

The coastal city was targeted by Jihadists two weeks ago.

Brigadier Chongo Vidigal, the military spokesperson, who addressed journalists on Friday said the number could be higher.

Mr Vidigal said the government believes that the military intervention in Palma was successful.

Islamic State-linked militants launched attacks on the northeastern coastal town of Palma on March 24, ransacked buildings and beheaded civilians. Thousands of people fled into the surrounding forest and the attack has seen a surge in the number of refugees fleeing the violence in the area.

Known locally as Al-Shabaab – but with no relation to the Somali group of the same name – the militants in Cabo Delgado have launched a series of brazen raids on towns and villages in an apparent bid to establish an Islamic caliphate.

It is not clear how many civilians were killed but according to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) violence has killed over 2,600 people, at least half of them civilians, and displaced close to 700,000.

The attack forced close to 10,000 people to flee, the UNHRC adds.

On Wednesday, Mozambique police said that twelve people, believed to be foreigners, were found beheaded following the attack.

Local police commander Pedro da Silva, who told state-owned Television TVM, said he could not be sure of the 12 foreign people nationalities, but he believed they were foreigners because their skin colour.

Meanwhile, Southern African leaders directed an immediate SADC Organ technical deployment to Mozambique as a strategy to fight against terrorism.

The decision was made Thursday at the extraordinary double troika summit of heads of state and government of the southern African Development Community(SADC) held in Maputo.

“Double Troika Summit noted with concern, the acts of terrorism perpetrated against innocent civilians, women and children in some of the districts of Cabo Delgado Province”.

“[The summit] condemned the terrorist attacks in strongest terms; and affirmed that such heinous attacks cannot be allowed to continue without a proportionate regional response”, the summit’s communiqué reads in a part.

The summit also convened of an Extraordinary Meeting of the Ministerial Committee of the Organ by 28 April 2021 that will report to the Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit to be held in Mozambique, on 29 April 2021.

“Double Troika Summit expressed its heartfelt condolences and sympathies to the Government and people of Mozambique, particularly the bereaved families, on the loss of their loved ones”.

“Double Troika Summit expressed SADC’s full solidarity with the Government and people of Mozambique, and reaffirmed SADC’s continued commitment to contribute towards the efforts to bring about lasting peace and security, as well as reconciliation and development in Mozambique”.

The Thursday’s summit hosted by Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi, chairperson of SADC paid tribute to the late John Magufuli, former President of Tanzania, and out-going Chairperson of SADC by observing a minute of silence.

Botswana Mokgweetsi Masisi, chairperson of the Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation attended the summit along with Presidents of Malawi Lazarus Chakwera, of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa and of Zimbabwe Emmerson Mnangagwa.

President of the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar Hussein Ali Mwinyi attended the meeting representing President Samia Suluhu Hassan.