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The Mozambican defence and security forces on Thursday morning captured eight men, believed to be members of the terrorist organisation operating in parts of the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
According to a report in Friday’s issue of the independent newssheet “Carta de Mocambique”, the men were captured in the village of Malamba, which is just seven kilometres from the town of Palma.
The eight men, aged between 18 and 40, were armed with machetes, spears and arrows. After their arrest, a crowd gathered at the Palma district police command, anxious for a glance at the people who are allegedly responsible for so much misery in Cabo Delgado.
But some sources in Palma who spoke to “Carta de Mocambique” said the men have nothing to do with the insurgency – they were merely villagers who had gone into the bush for hunting and other subsistence activities.
They were seized following an incident on Tuesday when a farmer from Malamba was kidnapped and killed in his field. Other members of his family then set out in pursuit of the killers.
On Thursday, the community leader from the Incularino neighbourhood, on the outskirts of Palma, Ali Nkule, was called to the police command to identify the men captured. The paper’s sources said that, before they went into the bush to hunt, the men advised the authorities, who advised against their trip.
But they went anyway, and while they were in the bush villages near Palma came under terrorist attack. This made them suspects.
Stories circulated in Palma on Thursday that a local religious leader, Sheik Abdremane Alide had been arrested in Mtwara province in Tanzania, accused of belonging to the insurgent group. Alide, who makes regular visits to Tanzania, runs a Palma koranic school, with 20 pupils. By Thursday afternoon his family had no idea of his whereabouts.
People displaced from Palma villages are now fleeing to the district capital. Many fled into the bush on Wednesday night, following an attack against the village of Miando, in which 100 houses were burnt down.
A local source told “Carta de Mocambique” that this raid began at about 16.00, when a taxi-driver, returning to Miando from the Quionga administrative post, was shot. He ran into a road block set up by insurgents, but instead of obeying their orders to stop, he accelerated.
Shot in an arm, he could not continue riding his motorbike-taxi for long, and abandoned it in the bush. He made his way on foot into Palma town, where he was sheltered by relatives. That evening, at about 21.00, the insurgents set much of Miando on fire. There were no reports of loss of life, but many of the 500 people who lived in Miando abandoned their homes and trekked into Palma.
Palma is the district where liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities will be built, to exploit the enormous natural gas deposits discovered in the Rovuma basin off the coast of Cabo Delgado.Source: AIM
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