Allied forces from the Mozambican Armed Forces (FADM) and the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) military contingent are struggling to contain insurgent attacks and stabilise security in Cabo Delgado province’s northern districts bordering Tanzania.
Mozambican troops and SAMIM soldiers from Lesotho Defence Force (LDF), South African Defence Force (SANDF) and Tanzania People’s Defence Force (TPDF) were said to be “on level five alert” and pursuing a group of insurgents near Litingina village, Nangade district on Monday, a local source told Zitamar.
The insurgents beheaded at least one farmer at a yet to be confirmed attack location, described as being near the Mueda-Nangade district border.
The decapitated man’s body was found by a woman, who had managed to escape after seeing the insurgents before they saw her. She returned to Litingina village to warn the local pro-government militia force, the local source said.
She then accompanied the militia fighters to a river where there is a waterfall near farm land between Litingina and Nachitenje villages. This is where the soldiers were seen.
The military is controlling all Nangade district’s traffic routes, the source also said.
Insurgent activity has increased in Cabo Delgado’s central and northern districts since heavy fighting was reported around Chai in Macomia district, further to the south, before Christmas.
Two insurgents were captured by local militias in two different villages in Nangade on 25 December. They revealed they were fleeing fighting in Macomia district, 100km south.
A local source told Zitamar on Friday that Nangade district police were holding 24 people, who had escaped from captivity in an insurgent camp near Nkonga village.
They had also fled from offensives in Macomia. One of them, a 12-year-old boy, allegedly knows how to use a weapon and he hides when he hears a helicopter.
Mozambican state news agency AIM put the total of rescued captives in Nangade at 30, saying they were mostly women and children. They said that some of the women had been raped, and that they had been fed nothing but cassava and so some, particularly the children, were showing signs of malnutrition.
At least another six people were killed in a series of weekend attacks by insurgents targeting villages in Mueda and Nangade, Mediafax reported.
Alberto Chipande village in Mueda district, called locally Nachipande, was attacked on Saturday. There are reports of two dead, one of which was a deputy village leader.
The villages of Nkonga and Lijungo, both in Nangade district, were attacked on Friday.
A local pro-government militia fighter was reportedly killed during the Nkonga attack. Three decapitated bodies were found in a field after.
Many families have been displaced by these attacks. They have begun arriving in Ngapa, Namatil and Naida villages, as well as Nangade’s district headquarters.
SAMIM’s force commander Major General Xolani Mankanyi visited the LDF battalion stationed in Nangade district last week, where he congratulated the Basotho soldiers for destroying one of the insurgent’s bases in late December 2021.
“The extremist group was dealt a very hard blow here in Nangade in 2021 and this year we will not waiver,” the major general promised.
This article was corrected on 12 January at 10:42 CAT to correct confusion around the location of villages in Mueda and Nangade districts.
The article was corrected again on 12 January at 15:30 CAT to correct the number of deaths reported by Mediafax, from eight to six.
This article was produced by Zitamar and Mediafax under the Cabo Ligado project, in collaboration with ACLED. The contents of the article are the sole responsibility of Zitamar News.