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Armed groups this morning attacked the district headquarters town of Quissanga in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, causing widespread population flight, residents report.
This is the second invasion of a town by the movement that has been terrorising the region for two and a half years. On Monday, it occupied Mocímboa da Praia, one of the province’s main urban centres, leaving a number of victims and damages yet to be determined.
Mocímboa da Praia is about 90 kilometres south of the natural gas megaprojects under development in the region, while Quissanga is 200 kilometres south, closer to the provincial capital, Pemba.
Since the early hours of today, part of the coastal town’s population has been fleeing by boat and on foot to the Quirimbas archipelago, namely to the island of Ibo, 14 kilometres away, while other people are attempting the 100 km journey to Pemba on foot.
At low tide, it is possible to walk through the mangrove all the way from Quissanga to Ibo island – and it is there that many people are seeking refuge. According to one report, there is smoke over the village, suggesting that infrastructure is being set on fire.
— Eric Morier-Genoud (@emorier) March 25, 2020
There is no mention of victims, residents having fled at the first signs of invasion, after hearing gunshots in the upper part of the town, near the administration buildings.
Some families have lost contact with children in the rush to the boats this morning. One woman told Lusa that she does not know the whereabouts of a nephew who was in her care, and can only hope that he fled to safety too.
Some residents started to leave the town on Tuesday, others say.
The Quissanga region had already been attacked in late January, when part of the Instituto Agrário de Bilibiza, which is managed by the Aga Khan Foundation, was destroyed.
The province of Cabo Delgado has been the target of attacks by armed groups that international organizations classify as a terrorist threat, and which in two and a half years have already killed at least 350 people in addition to forcing 156,400 to abandon their homes and land in search of safety.
The wave of violence was born in radicalised Muslim communities, whose groups have never indicated a leader or made any claims, except for communiqués from the ‘jihadist’ Islamic State group, whose presence on the ground experts and authorities do not consider credible.
In January, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi said that Mozambique would need the help of other organisations to end the armed attacks in the North.
“We need co-participation, because this is a multinational problem, so its solution will not depend only on Mozambique, but we are working [on it],” he said then.
The international community has indicated willingness to help, but no formal cooperation has yet been realized, and the violence continues.Source: Lusa
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