Scores killed in Mozambique Islamist terrorist attack
Charles Nwoke, Palma, Mozambique
April 1, 2021
The government of Mozambique has said, scores of people were slain in calculated jihadist attacks in Palma, a Northern Mozambique town, four days after the raid was carried out and forced the evacuation of thousands of survivors to safety in Pemba, the provincial capital.
It stated that seven persons were killed in an attack during an evacuation operation in a hotel where they had sought refuge.
“Last Wednesday, a group of terrorists sneaked into… Palma and launched actions that resulted in the cowardly murder of dozens of defenseless people,” said the Defence Ministry Spokesperson, during a recent press conference.
Aliens were also said to be among those caught in the Mozambique pogrom, but the government did not state the number of foreigners killed in the attack.
According to AFP, one South African so far is known to have died during the attack as the family confirmed to the news agency.
A South African mother told AFP that Nel, her son had been holed up in the Amarula hotel with his father and brother for two days, and as they were trying to enter a convoy of cars that had come to evacuate them, Nel was shot dead. His father had to carry his lifeless body until they were rescued.
“There’s no way to possibly describe what you feel when you get news like that.
“It’s just devastating, body numbing, mind-numbing,” Meryl Knox told AFP.
A senior researcher with the Pretoria-based think-tank, the Institute for Security Studies, Martin Ewi, said that “over 100” people were still unaccounted for since the attack. “That’s what we know so far.”
He added that the situation on the ground was confusing.
Militants on Wednesday attacked Palma, a town of about 75,000 persons in the province of Cabo Delgado the host community of France’s Total and other energy factories, a multi-billion-dollar gas plant.
Human Rights Watch has stated that the terrorist group shoots sporadically on civilians in their homes and on the streets.
In the past three days, security troops had prioritized “the rescue of hundreds of citizens, nationals, and foreigners”, said Saranga, without giving a breakdown of the numbers.
Some were temporarily taken to the heavily guarded gas plant located on the Afungi peninsula, on the Indian Ocean coast south of the Tanzanian border, before being moved to Pemba, around 250 kilometers (150 miles) south of Palma.
A boat loaded with evacuees landed in Pemba on Sunday, according to police patrolling the Pemba port.
According to a source close to the rescue operation, there were “about 1,400” persons on board during the evacuation process. Those evacuated included non-essential staff of Total and Palma residents who had sought refuge at the gas plant.
According to humanitarian agencies, many other small boats loaded with displaced people were on their way to Pemba and expected to reach overnight or Monday morning.
Airport officials in Pemba said humanitarian aid flights had been suspended to free up space for military operations.
Caritas, a Catholic humanitarian agency that is active in the province, equally reported about new arrivals to Pemba.
“Now we await the arrival of people who are most vulnerable so that we can provide assistance,” the local head of Caritas, Manuel Nota, informed AFP.
The Islamic terrorist attack on Palma is the first of its kind near the major gas project during a three-year Islamist insurgency across the Northern part of Mozambique.
Islamic extremists have attacked villages and towns in the region, forcing nearly 700,000 to flee their homes since October 2017.
The Mozambique crisis has taken root and claimed at least 2,600 lives, half of them are civilians, according to the US-based data-collecting agency Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED).