Chang could be released on bail today
In file CoM
The seven day deadline given by the Mozambican police for Islamic fundamentalists in the northern district of Mocimboa da Praia to surrender has expired, and the police say they have now launched what they describe as a “manhunt” to round up “terrorists”.
This follows the abortive islamist insurrection on 5 October, in which armed fundamentalists launched simultaneous attacks against three police installations in Mocimboa da Praia. The defence and security forces regained control of Mocimboa town the following day, but there have been subsequent attacks against outlying villages, and ambushes of police vehicles.
The most recent ambush was on 18 December, when the national director of reconnaissance of the riot police was killed, and five other police officers were seriously injured.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, the spokesperson for the General Command of the police, Inacio Dina, said those involved in the October attacks “are now regarded as enemies and terrorists. They will be captured, tried and held accountable, depending on their degree of involvement in the acts that began on 5 October”.
He gave no further details, and did not reveal how many people had responded to the police appeal and turned themselves in.
But the independent paper “O Pais” reported that on Friday night the defence and security forces attacked the village of Mitumbate, regarded as a bastion of the insurgents, by air and by sea.
“Two helicopters were used and a boat of the marines”, a resident of Mocimboa town told the paper. He said the insurgents were taken by surprised and lost about 50 people, including women and children.
According to a report in Wednesday’s issue of “O Pais”, over 200 people in Mocimboa da Praia were detained between October and now – but the courts ordered the release of an unspecified number, much to the annoyance of the police.
“They are releasing lots of people involved in the attacks”, one member of the Criminal Investigation Police told the paper. “We have already had one case of an individual who was released by order of the court, and went back to join the attacking group. He was injured and detained during a clash with the police. He was presented to the justice authorities, and they didn’t believe they were seeing the person they had previously regarded as innocent”.
“O Pais” also reports a significant number of injured people entering Mocimboa da Praia rural hospital, but it is unclear how many of them are members of the defence forces and how many belong to the islamist group.
“The situation is not at all good. I cannot say anything more”, the head doctor of the hospital told the paper. But a nurse, not named by the paper, said that most of the injured are policemen and soldiers. The bodies of those who died in the clashes are not kept in the hospital, but senior officers ask the doctors to issue death certificates.
“O Pais” noted a number of plain clothes police officers in the hospital corridors, who are on the lookout for injured islamists.Source: AIM