Armed groups invade second village in 48 hours

Cabo Delgado

Cabo Delgado

  |  Reuters

Armed groups attacked the village of Quissanga, a district headquarters in Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, at dawn, leading to widespread flight, according to reports by residents.

It is the second invasion by the movement that has been terrorising the region for two and a half years, after on Monday they occupied Mocímboa da Praia, one of the main urban areas of Cabo Delgado, for almost the entire day, killing several victims and causing damage.

Mocímboa da Praia is about 90 kilometres south of the natural gas megaprojects under construction in the region, while Quissanga is 200 kilometres south, closer to the provincial capital, Pemba.

Since dawn on Wednesday, part of the population of that coastal village is fleeing by boat and on foot to the Quirimbas archipelago, namely the island of Ibo, 14 kilometres away, while other people are trying to reach Pemba, less than 100 kilometres away.

According to a report, there was smoke over the village, indicating that homes had been set on fire.

There is no indication of victims, as the residents said that all the families fled at the first signs of invasion, hearing shots fired in the upper part of the village, next to the administration buildings.

Some inhabitants lost contact with children of their families during the flight to the boats this morning, as is the case of a woman whose told Lusa said she does not know of a nephew in her care who hopes she has also fled.

Some residents began to leave the village on Tuesday, another of the residents said.

The Quissanga region had already been hit by attacks in late January, leading to the destruction of part of the Agrarian Institute of Bilibiza, managed by the Aga Khan Foundation.

Cabo Delgado province has been the target of attacks by armed groups that international organisations classify as a terrorist threat, and which in two and a half years has killed at least 350 people and 156,400 people have lost their property or been forced to abandon their homes and lands in search of safe places.

The wave of violence that has emerged in radicalized Muslim communities and whose groups include residents who to this day have never made claims or presented a leader - except communiqués from the jihadist Islamic State group, but whose presence on the ground experts and authorities find little credibility.

In January, Mozambique's president, Filipe Nyusi, said that the country will need support from other organisations to stop armed attacks in the north.

"We need help because it is a multinational problem, so its solution will not depend only on Mozambique, but we are working," he said.

The international community has been willing to help, but no form of cooperation has yet taken place, while the violence continues.