Mozambique’s president, Filipe Nyusi, has said that the rebel groups that have been terrorising the country’s Cabo Delgado province are weakened and on the run, saying that this was the explanation for the insurgents’ incursions in new points in the south of the province.
“Because of the fact that we are hitting the enemy hard he is stampeding,” said Nyusi during a visit to military positions in Ancuabe, one of the districts that has suffered new attacks in recent weeks. “He is trying to structure itself into small groups and these groups have a tendency to come down” further south.
According to the head of state, the rebels who have terrorised the province since 2017 are fleeing to the south of Cabo Delgado in search of food, due to the military operations being carried out by Mozambique’s armed forces, supported by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and Rwanda.
“What [the rebels] want now is to show the world that they exist, and they are also looking for food,” Nyusi said, going so far as to say that the insurgents are starving. “We will pursue these small groups.”
Testimony gathered by Lusa last week indicate at least eight deaths since 5 June in Ancuabe district, including of community leaders, some by beheading, with residents saying there several people are still missing.
In one of the attacks, security guards at a graphite mine – whose output is used globally in electric car batteries – were shot dead while another company mining the same material suspended logistical operations along the province’s main road.
Cabo Delgado province is rich in natural gas but has been terrorised since 2017 by armed rebels, with responsibility for some attacks claimed by a local affiliate of the extremist group Islamic State.
There are 784,000 people who have been internally displaced due to the conflict, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and there have been around 4,000 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project.
Since July 2021, an offensive by government troops with Rwandan support later joined by SADC has allowed areas where rebels were present to recover, but their flight has provoked new attacks in other districts used as passage or temporary refuge.