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File photo: Lusa
Gilda Mabuleza has just returned to the village from which she fled for the eleventh time in three months because of armed attacks in the Matenga area on the EN1, the main road linking the north and south of Mozambique.
“This is so; yes, yes,” the 63-year-old tells Lusa, alluding to the frequency attacks on vehicles near her village, a group of precarious dwellings and tents beside the road between Inchope and Gorongosa.
The village sits between two new Defence and Security Forces positions, not far from where a police officer was shot dead and a patrol car burned down in October, and where a bus was shot at on Tuesday, injuring three.
“This time we only returned (from the woods) in response to a call from the military, so that we would not be confused with the attackers,” she added.
Sara Zacarias, 23, mother of four, first packed up in August when the attacks began, and no only unpacks two pans at a time to prepare a meal, ever watchful for movement and ready to escape.
“I have been living here since I was born, but only in recent months have I been fleeing from shooting carrying my children on my back,” Zacarias says, describing her anguish when she once left one of her children in the hut by mistake.
“It would be good to reach an understanding soon,” she notes, explaining that this is the crucial time for the agriculture on which the majority of the village depends for its survival.
In addition to the constant fleeing and the fear that hangs over that stretch of road, the attacks are beginning to have economic consequences for people who live there, who depend on agriculture and the sale of charcoal to make a living.
“No trucks or other vehicles dare stop to buy charcoal, because drivers know this area is the most dangerous,” Paulino Juliasse tells Lusa.
Juliasse also mentions afall in charcoal production because residents fear they will have to flee inland at any moment, and, like most villagers, wants an end to the attacks.
“It’s unbelievable that in three months of peace I have experienced the same insecurity and fear [as in the 2014-2016 conflict],” Ernesto Mandigo, a truck driver for a fuel distribution company, says.
Lusa met Mandigo at Inchope as he was on his way to the north of Sofala to drop off another cargo. He drove on after fervent prayers.
Meanwhile, at Inchope, on the road to Gorongosa, authorities have reactivated the searches of cargo and passenger vehicles, including motorcycles. The same procedure faces anybody leaving Gorongosa village.
Mandatory searches had been lifted after the signing in Gorongosa on August 6 of the end of military hostilities agreement between Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and Mozambican National Resistance (Renamo) leader Ossufo Momade.
Attacks by armed groups in this region, considered a stronghold of Renamo guerrillas, have killed at least 10 people since August this year.Source: Lusa
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