The Mozambican Army admitted on March 30 that the town of Palma, located in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, remains uncontrolled after the attack carried out by insurgent groups since March 24. The situation, which has left dozens of injuries and deaths, has caused the displacement of at least 3,360 people, according to the IOM.
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According to Bertolino Jeremias Capitine Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Mozambican Armed Forces, soldiers of various specialties are working to quell the pockets of jihadist resistance that persist in the area.
The representative of the Armed Forces indicated that the troops are motivated to achieve the prompt return of the displaced to their home in what he defined as “cleaning operation.”
According to the local publication ‘Jornal Noticias’, the Army’s work has focused on evicting civilians from the area to focus on finding hiding places for the insurgents.
Palma, an important logistics center for the development of gas exploitation projects valued at about 60,000 million dollars, has been the target of a series of attacks since last March 24. On March 29, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks and indicated that the area is under its control.
Although the victims have not been counted, the Government of Mozambique has indicated that the attack left dozens of people dead. However, in its March 29 statement, the self-proclaimed Islamic State group quantified the deaths at 55 people, most of them members of the security forces.
The situation has generated concern in the international community. The French embassy in Maputo, the capital of Mozambique, spoke out on the situation and urged Mozambique’s partner countries to mobilize against terrorism.
“Paris is following with great concern the situation in the province of Cabo Delgado, in Mozambique and condemns, with the greatest vehemence, the terrorist attacks perpetrated several days ago that caused deaths in the civilian population (…) France remains alongside Mozambique in the fight against terrorism and encourages the countries of the region and its partners to mobilize together with Mozambique, ”a statement read.
For its part, the medium ‘O Pais’, which quotes the Lusa news agency, pointed out that it will be during the first week of April when military personnel from the Portuguese Armed Forces arrive in Mozambique and will collaborate in the training of their Mozambican counterparts. .
International organizations concerned about the situation of the displaced
Since 2017, Cabo Delgado province has been the target of violence when the local jihadist group Al Shabab ‘began coordinated attacks on police stations and government facilities in the interior of the region.
The area, according to estimates by the United Nations (UN), is home to about 110,000 people and at least 43,600 sought refuge there after escaping attacks in other towns in the Cabo Delgado province.
“(Many) came to Palma seeking safety, and they have left Palma without any,” said Jonathan Whittall, director of analysis for the international aid group Doctors Without Borders (MSF).
Since the attacks began, many locals have tried to flee by sea or on foot to the town of Pemba, located about 400 kilometers from Palma. There, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM) some 3,360 people had registered as of March 30.
However, the Reuters news agency indicates that an unknown number of people have followed the path north, near the border with Tanzania. In Pemba, a group told the UN refugee agency that their attempts to seek safety in Tanzania were thwarted by a difficult river crossing.
“It is a true humanitarian catastrophe (…) People are scattered all over the place, by boat, by road,” said Lola Castro, regional director of the World Food Program (WFP).
This program has sent doctors to the Palma area and transported hundreds of people to safety, including humanitarian workers, according to Castro’s statement. However, three humanitarian workers remain missing.
With EFE, Reuters and local media