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Mozambique Police Commander-in-Chief Bernardino Rafael has announced the arrest of several members of the groups that have been destabilising the province of Cabo Delgado, in the north of the country.
“We recently presented three Ugandan malefactors in Nampula” alongside other detainees indicted for recruiting elements and “killing in those districts”, Rafael announced on Monday (04.02) during a police parade in Nampula, northern Mozambique, giving names and detailing operations.
According to the Mozambican Information Agency (AIM), the police commander-in-chief said that the detainees were “dangerous” people who were in charge of receiving and deploying youths in districts of Nampula south of Cabo Delgado, where the attacks have been taking place.
Knives, machetes, explosives
“Their mission was to receive the recruits and strengthen the attacks on the communities in Cabo Delgado.” They also bought the “knives, machetes and axes that criminals used to slay innocent Mozambicans”, he said.
One of the suspects was in charge of transferring money, and also ordering “flour from South Africa,” in which he “concealed ammunition and homemade explosives” as it passed through Nampula.
“We found this in a carrier car,” he said, adding that the suspect had links “with the deceased South African”, meaning Andre Hanekom.
The South African businessman died in January while in police custody in Pemba, the provincial capital of Cabo Delgado, in circumstances considered suspicious by his family and Human Rights Watch.
“Imagine Ugandans coming to assassinate people in Mozambique. Their interest is to disturb the peace and open loopholes so that our economy slows,” Rafael said.
Even as Rafael was speaking in Nampula, defence and security forces announced that they had neutralised four more men suspected of recruiting and organising attacks.
The four, all Mozambicans, were detained in the districts of Mocimboa da Praia and Macomia and in the city of Pemba.
Since October 2017, remote villages in the province of Cabo Delgado have been the target of armed attacks by unidentified groups, resulting in about 150 deaths among residents, alleged attackers and members of the security forces.
The violence in Cabo Delgado (2,000 kilometres from Maputo, in the far north of Mozambique, near the border with Tanzania) has been ongoing since an armed attack on police in Mocimboa da Praia by a group from a local mosque preaching insurgency against the state, whose habits had been a source of friction with residents for at least two years.
Since Mocimboa da Praia, the attacks have always occurred far from asphalt roads and have not so far damaged the infrastructure of petroleum companies exploiting natural gas in the area.
However, the proximity of the latest attacks has caused the operations to be conducted under “enhanced security,” oil company Anadarko, which is coordinating work on the Afungi peninsula in Palma district, Cabo Delgado, told Lusa.
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