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File photo: Lusa
Mozambican Defence and Security Forces (FDS) have announced the capture in Cabo Delgado of a leader of the insurgent movement, a native of Tanzania.
The detainee, identified as Ali, 39, was captured in Nangade along with six other rebels, according to Tuesday’s edition of daily Notícias.
Ali led rebel groups for the past year in Macomia and Mucojo in the centre of the province, later moving to the insurgent bases of Muera and Mocímboa da Praia in the north.
In addition to directing attacks, he managed recruitment drives through which he incited extremism, the FDS added.
The district of Nangade, where he was apprehended, was the scene of an attack on Sunday in which armed groups killed at least five people and destroyed 200 traditionally built houses, according to residents’ reports to Lusa.
The district is in the far north of Cabo Delgado, bordering Tanzania while the east is bordered by the districts of Palma, a town of gas projects, and Mocímboa da Praia, a port town recaptured five months ago from insurgents.
Cabo Delgado province is rich in natural gas but has been terrorised since 2017 by armed rebels, with some attacks claimed by the extremist group Islamic State.
The conflict has led to more than 3,100 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project, and more than 817,000 displaced people, according to Mozambican authorities.
Since July, an offensive by FDS troops with support from Rwanda later joined by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) allowed for an increase in security, recovering several areas where there was a rebel presence, but the conflict continues in several districts and has reached the neighbouring province of Niassa.