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The Commander General of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique (PRM) Bernardino Rafael said on Sunday (12-12) that the country’s Defence and Security Forces (FDS) had recently shot and killed one of the leaders of the terrorists in Niassa.
Rafael noted out that the first signs of insurgency in that province had been experienced in Mavago district, where there were clashes between terrorists and government forces. The unrest spread to the district of Mecula. In addition to the destruction of houses, police officers were injured.
“The antecedents were, first, the attack on a vehicle of the Police of the Republic of Mozambique in Mavago, where colleagues were wounded. And, in the operation we carried out, we managed to destroy a small camp where armed individuals had been housed. We recovered some equipment, and established that these were armed men,” he said in statements released by Televisão de Moçambique (TVM).
The PRM commander reported that what he called ‘combative reconnaissance’ patrols had launched an ambush in Mecula district.
“In this engagement, one of the wanted terrorists, a man named Cassimo, was hit. The people of Niassa know him. He was a Muslim from Mecula and, from his death, we conclude that these are terrorists who have crossed from Cabo Delgado to Mecula,” Rafael said.
Bernardino Rafael was speaking in Ressano Garcia, Maputo province, at the launch of the 2021-2022 festive season joint operations.
Nyusi expresses concern
President Nyusi has expressed concern about recent terrorist attacks in Niassa province, addressing the matter in a speech at the graduation ceremony of senior officers at the Marshal Samora Machel Military Academy in Nampula.
“There are noises in Niassa province, and in Mecula. Clarify this quickly. You know where that former tailor from Palma is, there in the woods, plotting. Resolve [the issue],” the president urged the security forces.
“Your duty is to contribute to defending the conquests of Mozambicans and preserve [our] values against threats,” he said.
“Refuge” for insurgents
Terrorists dislodged by the FDS in Cabo Delgado are settling in other Mozambican provinces, especially Niassa.
Last week, the chairman of Niassa provincial assembly, Artur Chitandale, warned of the possibility of insurgents using the province as a “refuge” following their escape from the offensive by the FDS, Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
João Feijó, a researcher at the non-governmental organization (NGO) Observatório do Meio Rural ( OMR), agrees. “Unfortunately, if a trend of expansion of action by armed groups is confirmed, the war in the north could be prolonged, and an instant victory is not envisioned,” he warned, in an interview with Lusa news agency.