Cabo Delgado: Circulation on N380 resumes under military escort
File photo: VOA
Residents of Macomia, one of the main towns of Cabo Delgado province, northern Mozambique, fled into the woods on Thursday night after hearing gunfire in the vicinity, two residents told Lusa this Friday.
“From 6:00 p.m. there were shots and we all went off to sleep in the woods,” one resident reported this morning speaking from a hiding place, at a time when there is still no official information about the situation.
The flight of the population was justified by fears that armed rebels could re-enter the town and district headquarters, as happened in 2020, despite the fact that there are currently troops garrisoning the area.
The same source said that the shots appeared to come from the actual area where the Mozambican Armed Forces and SAMIM troops from Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries are based.
The population of Macomia now fears that going to ‘machambas’ around the town may become risky.
Another source, linked to the local militias, said he was at home packing a suitcase prior to heading for Pemba, the provincial capital, because of renewed fears about security in the town.
Before the insurrection, Macomia was one of the main commercial and transport hubs in Cabo Delgado, being located on the only paved road connecting the north and south of the province, National Road 380.
The district headquarters is about 200 kilometres south of Palma and Mocímboa da Praia, the area of the gas projects, reconquered in July, 2021, with the support of Rwandan forces.
It is suspected that the rebel groups fleeing the military offensive are responsible for the attacks that have taken place in other parts of Cabo Delgado.
Prior to last night’s shooting, Mozambican troops fought an armed group that invaded Matemo Island last week.
Elsewhere, along the border with Tanzania in the far north of the region, villages in Nangade district have since February been the target of incursions by rebels.
The Mozambican authorities have asked the international community for help financing the military effort in Cabo Delgado, admitting that, despite the improvements in control of the region in the last eight months, the fight against the insurgent forces is still not won.
Cabo Delgado province, in the north of the country, is rich in natural gas, but has been terrorized for four years by armed rebels, with some attacks claimed by the Islamic State extremist group.
The conflict has already cost more than 3,100 lives, according to the ACLED conflict registration project, and displaced more than 817,000 civilians, according to the Mozambican authorities.