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Cabo Delgado insurgents sweep through Balama district

Islamist insurgents launched an incursion into Balama on Saturday - the last district in Cabo Delgado province that had not yet been attacked - and killed at least five people

On Saturday 12 November, Islamic State Mozambique launched an incursion into Balama - the last district in Cabo Delgado province that had not yet been attacked - and raided three villages, beheaded at least five people, and burned several homes.

The first village to be attacked was Muripa, less than 10km from Balama district headquarters, where at least one person was decapitated on 12 November.

The next day, insurgents skirted around the edge of Balama town and attacked Mualia, just 7km to the east, beheading another two people, according to a security consultant report. Homes were also burned and the village was looted.

On 14 November, insurgents continued north-east to Marica village and accosted several villagers working in the fields, beheading at least two of them, a local source told Zitamar. The insurgents were last spotted moving towards Nropa village in Montepuez district, which was then also reportedly attacked but this has not yet been confirmed.

A source in Balama told Zitamar that “thousands” of people arrived at the district headquarters over the weekend having fled their homes for fear of encountering the insurgents. This compounds a growing displacement crisis in eastern Cabo Delgado. A report from the International Organization of Migration claimed that over 16,000 people abandoned their homes between 29 October and 7 November in neighbouring Namuno district, across which insurgents had launched a campaign of violence before moving onto Balama.