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The Mozambican police have categorically denied reports in a South African paper that terrorists from the self-styled “Islamic State”, or ISIS, have infiltrated northern Mozambique.
The paper, the “Lowvelder”, published in Mbombela, capital of the eastern South African province of Mpumalanga, claimed that a group of 90 “well trained ISIS fighters” had infiltrated the north of the country in the previous month and had made their way to the port of Nacala.
Citing unnamed “intelligence sources” the paper claimed the group had infiltrated from Zanzibar via mainland Tanzania. It suggested that “the jihadists may try to join forces with Renamo rebels in a united front against the Frelimo government”.
There are no other details at all about this supposed jihadist infiltration, and the writer seems quite unaware that the real jihadist activities have taken place in Mocimboa da Praia district in Cabo Delgado province, which is nowhere near Nacala.
As for linking up with Renamo, there has never been any sign that the Renamo leadership is remotely interested in Islamic fundamentalism.
Reacting to the report on Saturday, the spokesperson for the Mozambican police, Inacio Dina, categorically denied that there had been any ISIS infiltration. He pointed out that the country’s land and sea borders are protected by the Frontier Guards, and the Coastal, Lake and River Police, who work closely with the other defence and security forces.
They were protecting Mozambique’s borders, and had not noticed the entry of any group corresponding to the brief description given by “Lowvelder”.
Dina also noted the echo chamber effect that is so easy to obtain in today’s media. “This information was published by a South African newspaper, re-issued by the Portuguese radio station RDP-Africa, and by social media and other information platforms”. He added that the police are seeking the true source of the report.
Dina stressed that the police are calling for permanent vigilance, and urged members of the public to report any suspicious activities promptly, so that speedy measures can be taken in response.