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File: A destroyed and abandoned village in Aldeia da Paz outside Macomia File: A destroyed and abandoned village in Aldeia da Paz outside Macomia  (AFP or licensors)

Mozambique: Thousands flee Cabo Delgado as the crisis worsens

Jihadist groups set fire to villages and crops in Cabo Delgado’s northern province of Mozambique. They beheaded innocent villagers and young persons.

Vatican News English Africa Service - Vatican City

The conflict in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province is deteriorating, and a food crisis is looming. About 400 000 people have fled their homes and villages, abandoning their crops and become completely reliant on humanitarian assistance. This is according to a World Food Programme report. The situation has become dire. Most of the recently displaced persons have fled to Nampula, and Niassa Provinces. Many are now literally stranded in the city of Pemba and need of urgent help.

Forced recruitment of young people

Agenzia Fides reports that on the morning of 31 October, Islamist terrorists affiliated to the Central African Province of the Islamic State (ISCAP) carried out several attacks on some villages in the Muidumbe district of Cabo Delgado province in northern Mozambique: Nchinga, Namacunde, 24 de Março, Muatide and Muambula. Eyewitnesses say that a total of 20 people, including 15 teenagers, were beheaded in the village of 24 de Março, while the attackers kidnapped an unknown number of children from Nchinga.

The raids also have the purpose of forcibly recruiting young people from the villages to fight in the ranks of the jihadists. In April, this year, in the Muidumbe district, terrorists beheaded 52 civilians for refusing to join them. In addition to setting fire to several homes, the jihadists probably sabotaged the communications infrastructure, as cellular communications with Muidumbe was partially interrupted after the attack.

Retaliation against operations targeting jihadists

The latest raids could be in retaliation for the military offensive by the country’s Defense and Security Forces early last week against a significant terrorist position, the so-called “Syria Base” in the Mocimboa da Praia district. According to the Mozambican security forces, a total of 108 terrorists were killed in the operations.

Jihadist violence in Cabo Delgado province has jeopardised the harvest as thousands of farmers flee terrorist attacks. The harvest had already been affected by floods and a pest infestation. It is estimated that at least 400 000 residents have fled the province of Cabo Delgado.

On 1 November at least 40 people died when a boat carrying 74 people fleeing the violence sank between the islands of Ibo and Matemo, just north of the provincial capital of Pemba.

Terrorists attack villages in Tanzania

Meanwhile, terrorists based in northern Mozambique have crossed the Ruvuma River on the border between Tanzania and Mozambique, to attack some villages in Tanzania. According to Tanzanian authorities, more than 300 heavily-armed terrorists believed to be affiliated with ISCAP raided the village of Kitaya, on the banks of the Ruvuma River, where they destroyed homes and killed more than 20 people.

Security sources suspect that the terrorists want to recruit young people in the coastal regions, especially in Pwani, Tanga and Mtwara. In these areas, residents are confronted with social, economic and political grievances. The jihadists use the dissatisfaction of unemployed young people to recruit new fighters.

06 November 2020, 12:13