Jihadist “ghosts” wreak havoc in northern Mozambique - Watch
Photo: CIP Eleições
Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a bus, killing three of its passengers, on Thursday morning in the central Mozambican province of Sofala.
According to reports reaching AIM, the attack occurred at about 07.20, on the main north-south highway (EN1), a few metres from the Pungue river. The bus, belonging to the company Nagi, was heading towards the town of Gorongosa when it came under fire.
The attackers raked the bus with gunfire, and then melted back into the bush, leaving three passengers dead and several others injured, four of them seriously. The bus continued to Gorongosa, where the injured are receiving medical treatment at the Gorongosa rural hospital. Eye-witnesses described the interior of the bus as “soaked with blood”.
The police have closed EN1 between Gorongosa and the Inchope crossroads (where the north-south highway meets the Beira-Zimbabwe road). Buses travelling along EN1 towards the south of the country are now parked in Gorongosa.
The likeliest culprits for this atrocity are the gunmen who call themselves the “Renamo Military Junta”. They are dissidents who broke with the leadership of the main opposition party, Renamo, denouncing Renamo leader Ossufo Momade as “a traitor”.
The Thursday morning attack took place not far from the sites of two ambushes in September on the road between Beira and Chimoio, in Manica province. In these attacks, on 17 and 28 September, three trucks came under fire, and several of their occupants were injured. There were no fatalities.
However, at a Maputo press conference on Wednesday the spokesperson for the General Command of the Mozambican police, Orlando Mudumane, said there was “no information” linking the ambushes to the Junta. As far as the police were concerned, these were attacks committed by “unidentified criminals”.
But the ambushes are in line with the threats made by the Junta’s leader Mariano Nhongo who, in late August, said that unless the government agreed to talk to the Junta, “there will be no election campaign and no elections”. Making people afraid to use the road is a certain way to disrupt the election campaign.
In that same interview, Nhongo also said he is not in control of all Renamo forces. “These guerrillas who are attacking, I’ve lost control of them”, he said. “They’re scattered. Each of them does what they like”.
In his Wednesday press briefing, Mudumane downplayed the insurgency in the northern province of Cabo Delgado. There was no “generalised insecurity”, just “isolated attacks”, he claimed.
However, press reports earlier this week indicated that the insurgents, believed to be motivated by Islamic fundamentalism, attacked seven villages on Sunday and Monday in the districts of Mocimboa da Praia and Muidumbe.
Mudumane claimed that the communities in Cabo Delgado are living normally, and are “promptly rescued” by the defence and security forces from any attacks.
He also guaranteed that the general and provincial elections scheduled for 15 October will take place throughout Cabo Delgado. The defence and security forces will be in every corner of the province, he promised, thus guaranteeing security for the voters.
But since a large number of people in the northern districts of Cabo Delgado are known to have fled from the interior to the coast and the islands, it is hard to see how they can possibly exercise their right to vote, since voters must cast their ballots in the same place where they registered as voters in April and May.