1. Attacks Continue in “Secured Areas”, as Conflict Spreads to Neighboring Provinces

Attacks are continuing in areas proclaimed safe by the Rwandan military and the Mozambican authorities, flatly contradicting official pronouncements and leading to a renewed influx of IDP’s to Nampula Province.

During the last week of November, more than five hundred people – children, youth and adults – abandoned their homes in search of shelter in schools in the district of Mecula, Niassa province. The villages of Matage, Laulala and Gomba administrative posts are empty due to recent attacks, including kidnappings and destruction of homes, allegedly carried out by insurgents from Cabo Delgado.

With the population taking refuge in the district of Mecula, fearing further attacks, the National Institute for Disaster Risk Management created mechanisms to support needy families. INGD is distributing tents, shelter kits, food and hygiene products, according to delegate Friday João: “We are counting and grouping them into households. We are also going to distribute food to guarantee the families’ food for the next 30 days.”

One of the refugees, named Samuel Carlos, appeals to the authorities, fearing that the attacks will continue to displace more families: “We are asking the government to continue protecting us, because too many of our brothers have died in Cabo Delgado. Thank you for everything you are doing for the families here: we have food, blankets, tents and many other things”, Samuel Carlos told DW Africa.

The district of Pebane, by the Indian Ocean in Zambézia province, has in recent days registered a strong presence of different specialities and sub-units of the Defence and Security Forces (FDS).

According to military sources, the main reason is that there is evidence that some insurgents have migrated to the district, which has also seen the arrival of several foreigners involved in precious and semi-precious stone-related activities, specifically in the administrative post of Mulela.

According to sources, the situation is worrying because some use the sea to move from one place to another. The district village headquarters of Pebane has therefore been heavily militarised for more than a week, with military personnel in constant readiness from the local airfield down to the coast, and plainclothes intelligence services agents in various locations.

The district of Pebane is bordered to the east by the district of Moma in Nampula province, one of the regions where younger people have since 2017 allegedly been enticed financially to join the insurgents. However, according to military sources, in recent months, many of the insurgents have returned to their areas of origin and, fearing for the worst, government authorities have mobilised several military contingents to protect the Pebane district, which has a large forest to the north with the Reserva do Gilé.

In the areas of Cabo Delgado proclaimed safe by Rwandan military and Mozambican authorities, an insurgent group burnt down 15 houses in an attack on Friday morning 3 December, in the village of Nova Zambezia, in Macomia district. The village is 30 kilometres from Macomia town, and near the road linking Macomia to other districts in the

northern part of Cabo Delgado – Mocimboa da Praia, Palma, Nangade, Muidumbe and Mueda. It is also ten kilometres from the Fifth Congress village, where a unit of the Mozambican armed forces (FADM) is stationed.

“The attackers came from the side of the Fifth Congress, and that’s where the soldiers have their base. It’s strange”, said one source quoted by Carta de Mocambique. Another villager said, “We were convinced this wouldn’t happen again because there are soldiers in Macomia town”.

After the Friday attack, the villagers fled into the bush – reliving an experience they had hoped would never happen again. A report in “Mediafax” said that the raiders caught one villager in nearby fields and beheaded him.

“Mediafax” also reported that, across the provincial boundary, in Niassa, the administrator of Mecula district, Antonio Paulo, has tried to stop public officials from leaving the district in the wake of the attack on 25 November against a village 150 kilometres from Mecula town. At a meeting on Friday with local workers of the public administration, Paulo said no-one should flee from Mecula, since the defence and security forces are guaranteeing security in the town and the surrounding villages. Anyone leaving the town was doing so at his own risk, the administrator warned, even suggesting that those who wanted to leave might be intent on joining the terrorists.

Paulo promised that, if the district government were to note any signs of danger, it would instruct residents on the measures they should take. In the meantime, they should remain calm and focus on their work. Anyone who had already left Mecula should return to their jobs at once, he said.

“Mediafax” reports that Mecula town is currently calm. A unit of the defence forces arrived on Saturday and was sent to the area of Macalange, where gunfire had been heard.


2. Plight of Kidnapped Girls Raises Alarm

A report published by www.noticiasaominuto.com on 7 December 2021 says that:” Among nearly 200 girls aged between 12 and 17, they chose who they wanted to kidnap, while the mothers begged them to take them themselves and leave the children and young people behind. But the armed men said they didn’t want the older ones, and investigations indicate why: Cabo Delgado’s victims will have served rebels to supply women-trafficking networks that stretch from Europe to the Persian Gulf.

The report concerns one of the attacks on the Mocímboa da Praia district in 2020 and was released today by Human Rights Watch (HRW), in a statement in which it estimates that 600 women are still missing in Cabo Delgado .

According to reports by HRW survivors, women were forced to “marry” the kidnappers, others were enslaved and victims of sexual abuse, and others were sold to “foreign fighters” for values equivalent to between 550 and 1,600 euros.

“Kidnapped foreign women and girls, in particular, were released after their families paid ransoms,” the NGO added.

The scale of the abductions gained visibility in April, with an investigation by the Observatório do Mundo Rural (OMR) in Mozambique: at the time, investigator João Feijó told Lusa that hundreds had been selected for international women trafficking networks, with such a reach from Europe to the Persian Gulf.

OMR heard testimonies from “the prettiest girls” that “at the end of an indoctrination session they were going to tell their companions that they had been selected to go to Tanzania to study.”


3. SADC Mission Update

The SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) has claimed the deaths of 11 insurgents belonging to the Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah group, in north Mozambique, in Macomia in the last 2 weeks. According to a SAMIM communique, on 18 November, in a fire exchange, the troops were able to kill 9 insurgents, with another two fatalities in the Ninga area of the Nangande district. Among the dead are two insurgents- Rabab Fiquir and Abu Quitali, identified as commanders of the fighters in the ongoing conflict in the north of Mozambique. The operation was a success, on the SAMIM side, with only the insurgents being fatalities; no SAMIM troops were injured or killed in the operations. They also managed to confiscate multiple destructive weapons, including RPG-7 grenade launchers, machine guns, AK-47 assault rifles, grenades and a plethora of electronic devices. “SAMIM forces continue to dominate and pursue insurgents in the operational area as they are now dislodged from their man bases south of the Messalo River’, this is according to the SAMIM communique.


4. US Strengthens Partnership with Mozambique

US Army General Stephan Townsend, the commander of the US Africa Command, or Africom, has concluded his visit to southern Africa, which included visits to South Africa, Botswana and Mozambique. In Mozambique he met with the minister of Defense Cristovao Chume, and Chief of General Staff, Admiral Joaquim Mangrasse. “We have a meaningful partnership with Mozambique and our conversations sharpened our focus on our mutual security concerns. Our training and other engagements, such as the Joint Combined Exchange Training that happened this spring, demonstrate our partnership. We look forward to finding ways to strengthen our relationship with Mozambique in the future.” His visit comes after the conclusion of two training exercises by the US military in Mozambique. The training focused on tactical combat casualty as well as combat lifesaver training courses for the local Mozambican armed forces.

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