1. No End to Insurgency as Violence Escalates

Contrary to statements by Mozambican and Rwandan officials, the insurgency is not only spreading to neighbouring provinces – in recent weeks it has been escalating. DHPI has been reporting on escalating attacks since the beginning of November 2021. This is now confirmed by main stream media. AFP (see https://ewn.co.za/2021/12/31/thousands-flee-as-mozambique-jihadists-shift-attacks ) that nearly 4,000 Mozambicans have fled their villages in a month due to intensifying jihadist attacks in Niassa. “There are 3,803 displaced so far. These are people who fled from areas targeted by attacks in Mecula district,” Felismino Patricio, a government spokesman in Niassa province, told AFP by phone. The latest displacements add to the more than 820,000 that have fled the insurgency in Cabo Delgado since 2017.

The displaced have sought shelter in Mecula town, where they are housed at government schools or move in with relatives and friends. “Everyday people are arriving from the villages fleeing the attacks,” a resident in Mecula town told AFP on the phone, asking not to be named. Regina Atanasio, 30, hurriedly quit her village in Lichengue on December 15 after jihadist attacks. “They started attacking the village at 6:00 pm and then my husband and I fled with our children,” she said by phone. A police inspector was killed and dozens of people were kidnapped during an attack on December 23, according to the local government. Another villager said women were kidnapped in the last known raid on Monday in Alassima village, around five kilometres from Mecula town.

Reports were received of attacks on the villages of Meluco Nangororo and Imbada, during which extensive damage was caused to property.

In areas of Cabo Delgado itself that have supposedly been stabilized by Rwandan troops, attacks are continuing. Five people died this Monday (03.01) following a new attack by armed groups in Macomia district, in Cabo Delgado. In the new attack, which took place at dawn, the insurgents killed 5 people and set fire to 11 houses in the village of Nova Zambézia, which is along road number 380, in Macomia district, Cabo Delgado.

Above: Macomia District after attacks


 

2. Exploration for LNG Intensifies

A floating platform to be installed in Area 4 of the Rovuma Basin for gas exploration has arrived in Mozambique, the National Petroleum Institute (INP) announced this Monday (03.01). At 432 meters long, and similar to a giant ship, the platform left the shipyards of Samsung’s industrial division in Geoje, South Korea, on November 15.

“Right now, the heliport certification process is underway to allow the landing and take-off of helicopters, which will transport the support and work teams”, referred the INP in a statement distributed today (03.01) to the media.

“The arrival of this [platform] is in accordance with the schedule approved by the Government of Mozambique, and is therefore a remarkable milestone in the implementation of this project, whose Final Investment Decision was taken in June 2017, and production is expected to start by mid-2022”, adds the INP.

The infrastructure will be connected to six wells and extract the gas to an on board factory that will cool it, liquefying it, so that it can be transported in freighters to destination countries for electricity production, heating or other purposes. The platform has storage depots in the hull and 13 modules above them, including a liquefaction plant, an eight-story module that can house 350 people, and a runway for helicopters.

Area 4 is operated by Mozambique Rovuma Venture (MRV), a joint venture jointly owned by ExxonMobil, Eni and CNPC (China), which holds a 70% stake in the concession contract.


 

3. First South African Soldier Killed In Resurgent Violence

The death of a South African Special Forces soldier, in the conflict in Cabo Delgado, has shone a light on the violence on the ground. Previously, even though there were regular skirmishes with insurgents, no troops had become casualties and that gave SAMIM a PR upper hand. On 20 December, in an incident when SADNF soldiers, operating under Operation Vikela, found themselves ambushed around Chai village in Cabo Delgado. Even though the members fought their way through the ambush, they were attacked again while waiting for their helicopter evacuation pickup; and it was here that Corporal Tebogo Radebe was shot by insurgents affiliated with Al Sunnah al Jama and killed by enemy fire in action. The death of Corporal Radebe is a turning point in the deployment of the SAMIM forces, as he is the first soldier to die due to fighting while on active duty in this peacekeeping intervention of the SADC. The South African contingent of the SAMIM deployment, via the SANDF, has had its contract of engagement extended indefinitely. This was announced by the South African Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Dr Naledi Pandor, at an end–of–year briefing given mid-December. The SAMIM deployment extension

was approved “to continue with offensive operations against terrorists and violent extremists to consolidate the stability of security and create an environment conducive for resettlement of the population and facilitate humanitarian assistance operations and sustainable development”.

At an opening of a new road in Cabo Delgado’s Balama district on 17 December, President Filipe Nyusi cautioned against rising panic of what seems to be an increase in insurgent activities in the north of the country. He said that though there are “expanding pockets” of violence, the soldiers stationed at places like Niassa “are waiting for the terrorists’. According to Sam Ratner, a researcher on the conflict in Cabo Delgado, authorities aren’t being very forthcoming with the information of the attacks. “The Mozambican government effectively denied that this is happening, maintaining that its interventions, aided by Rwanda and SADC have been successful and that we’re nearing the end. This new development of attacks in Niassa province and expanded attacks in Cabo Delgado seems to suggest that that’s not actually true- that actually the conflict is not over, is perhaps not close to being over”.

In recent days there has been a rash of attacks in places such as Macomia, where in an attack on New Year’s Day, three people were killed by insurgents in the town, which has only recently been resettled after being liberated by joint Rwanda/Mozambique troops. One victim was shot and died of his injuries, and the other two were beheaded violently by the insurgents. They also raided foodstuffs from villagers. The day before, in an attack on nearby Darumba village, insurgents killed a fisherman, but his colleagues were able to escape the violence.

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