An armed group on Wednesday, attacked Palma, a northern Mozambique town which is less than 25km (15 miles) by road from gas projects worth some US$60bn.
The attack near the gas projects led by oil majors such as Total – happened the same day the French company announced it would gradually resume work at the site after suspending it because of nearby attacks.
Mozambique’s northern-most province of Cabo Delgado has since 2017 been home to a festering armed uprising on the projects’ doorstep, which has escalated in the past year as fighters linked to ISIL (ISIS) began taking on the army to seize entire towns.
Several security sources, who requested anonymity, told the AFP news agency that Palma was under siege. One military commander based in the capital Maputo said two groups of “militants” concomitantly attacked a police checkpoint and residential neighbourhoods. Said another military source in Palma:
Government forces resisted but then they had to flee. The militants are using heavy, new weapons that we have never seen before.
It is also reported that a plane about to land in Afungi town near the Total operation was forced to turn back because of a “heavy weapons attack”.
Since the beginning of the fight in Cabo Delgado over three years ago, about 2 300 people have lost their lives while 355 000 people have been forced to leave their homes.
The armed group last year managed to take control of entire towns, including Mocimboa da Praia, used as a transit point for goods and workers related to the gas developments and Palma’s proximity to the projects means it has even more strategic importance.
SADC has recently been criticised for not failing to take befitting action in time.
Source | Al Jazeera