SA army boss speaks out as Islamic Jihadists attack army base and kill 3 soldiers in Mozambique

FILE: Islamic State fighters

South Africa’s military chief said Wednesday that multinational forces had been able to “disrupt” jihadist rebels in northern Mozambique since their deployment there last year.

More than 3 100 troops from several African countries moved into troubled Cabo Delgado province last July after Islamist insurgents seized swathes of territory.

Southern African “forces met strong resistance from the terrorists but were able to inflict fatal casualties and disrupt activities,” General Rudzani Maphwanya told media in Pretoria.

The international forces “continue to dominate and pursue the terrorists in the operational area.”

But Maphwanya said military action was not enough to resolve the crisis.

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He called for stronger governance to help people in the region return to normal life.

“You must create conditions for the people of Mozambique to start picking up where things have fallen between the cracks and start going on with their lives,” he said.

Deadly skirmishes still continue though in parts with the conflict tracker organisation Acled reporting Wednesday that three Mozambican soldiers were killed last week in clashes with the militants in Nangade district of Cabo Delgado.

“On 5 April, three soldiers were killed by insurgents in an attack on an army base at Mandimba, in eastern Nangade,” reported Acled.

Jihadist violence has killed at least 3 894 people, with 1 693 of them being civilians since the start of the campaign more than four years ago, according to conflict tracker organisation Acled.

Around 820 000 people have been displaced since 2017, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank.

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi reported in December that the gas-rich region had suffered fewer attacks since the international deployment.

Cabo Delgado is the only part of Mozambique with a Muslim majority, and also one of the poorest parts of one of the world’s impoverished countries.

Efforts to exploit the gas fields have drawn one of the biggest-ever investments in Africa, including a $20-billion project from TotalEnergies.

However, a brazen raid on the coastal town of Palma in March 2021 prompted the oil and gas company to suspend work on the project.


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