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Deadly attack on Miangalewa forces hundreds to flee again

Islamist insurgents apparently targeted military and militia positions, causing first confirmed fatality in over a month

Photo of the attack on Miangalewa on 15/4/23 published by Islamic State

An insurgent attack on the village of Miangalewa in Cabo Delgado’s Muidumbe district on Saturday has caused hundreds of civilians to flee, less than two weeks after returning home there.

Insurgents launched two evening assaults, one on the Mozambican armed forces and the other on the Local Force, killing at least one of the militia fighters. Islamic State acknowledged both incidents on social media and claimed to have also killed one soldier from the Southern African Development Community, but this has not been confirmed.

The security forces were quickly reinforced by the Rwanda Defence Force based 5km away in the village of Primeiro de Maio, local sources told Zitamar. A helicopter was also dispatched from Mueda to provide air cover.

Several members of the Local Force were wounded in the battle. Precise casualty numbers have not yet been established. As the insurgents withdrew they set fire to a broken down truck, images of which have appeared online.

Insurgents had circulated around the area for several days prior to the attack. A Local Force patrol encountered a group of insurgents in the village of Litapata in the Miangalewa administrative post on Thursday and opened fire, killing five insurgents while one escaped, a local source told Zitamar.

The next day, five armed insurgents appeared in Mandava, 15km to the west of Litapata, and shot at a civilian who was picking oranges. He was hit in the hand but managed to escape and find medical treatment at Miteda village, according to a local source.

Local sources claim some insurgents infiltrated Miangalewa a few days before the main attack and asked to buy food from some fishermen but disappeared after they were reported to the security forces.

Five hundred civilians returned to Miangalewa en masse at the start of April, having abandoned the area in April 2020 after the insurgents committed a massacre in the village.

This is the first violent incident with confirmed fatalities in Cabo Delgado since 14 March when insurgents clashed with Local Forces at Mitope in Mocímboa da Praia, killing two. The IS claim is also the first since the IED attack on a Mozambican patrol vehicle outside Mandava on 24 March.

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