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Civilians ordered to evacuate Macomia coast

Large groups of people have sought refuge in Macomia town, Quissanga and Quirambo island

Islamic State fighters pictured on the Macomia coast in late January. Insurgents have had freedom of movement between the villages of Mucojo and Quiterajo since security forces withdrew from the area on 9 February. Photo published in al-Naba.

Local authorities have ordered civilians living along the coastal part of Macomia district in Cabo Delgado province to leave their homes as insurgents continue to move freely in the area, local sources have told Zitamar News.

Officials did not provide any explanation for the order, but it may be to clear the area of civilians ahead of a security forces operation. Insurgents have been able to move freely along the coast between the administrative posts of Mucojo and Quiterajo since 9 February when they drove security forces from Mucojo, killing at least 20 soldiers. Authorities warned civilians that they should leave by 29 February.

A local source told Zitamar that large groups of people arrived in Macomia town on 27 February following the order to evacuate, but vehicles were unable to get in and out of Mucojo as a flood had caused the collapse of the bridge leading out of the town. Authorities have imposed a curfew in Macomia since 26 February. 

Others went to Quissanga district, where some told a local source that they had been forced to abandon their crops just as they were ready to be harvested.

Security forces on Quirambo island prevented civilians arriving by boat from Mucojo from coming ashore on 27 February, according to another local source. Soldiers did not explain why, but it is believed that they feared insurgent infiltrators were among the civilians. Some civilians managed to sneak onto the island through the mangroves, the source reported. Security forces previously blocked people from Mucojo from arriving on Matemo island in January due to suspicions of insurgent infiltrators.

This article was produced by Zitamar News under the Cabo Ligado project, in collaboration with Mediafax and ACLED. The contents of the article are the sole responsibility of Zitamar News.