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The façade of peace shatters

Recent insurgent attacks in two districts of Cabo Delgado province have destroyed the myth that peace had returned to war-torn areas

Good afternoon. Last month, we reported on the propaganda campaign being run by the Rwanda Defence Force troops fighting the Islamic State-backed insurgency in Cabo Delgado province, whose spokesman was claiming that life had returned to normal in the previously war-torn districts of Palma and Mocímboa da Praia.

That claim, which we challenged at the time, now looks completely untenable, as people are fleeing Mocímboa town, the district capital, showing that they do not even feel safe in urban areas let alone the surrounding villages. At least they are trying to flee: the Rwandan troops are reported to be preventing them from leaving the town, anxious to prevent their work in encouraging the return of the civilian population from being undone.

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The latest from Zitamar News:

Rwandans prevent exodus from Mocímboa da Praia as insurgents near district capital
Panic spread throughout Mocímboa da Praia after insurgents killed four civilians
At least three killed in insurgent attacks in Mozambique as IS declares global offensive
Islamic State-backed insurgents have killed at least three civilians in a wave of attacks in Cabo Delgado province following IS’ announcement of a new global military campaign on Wednesday

The cause of this terror is a significant increase in violence by the insurgency. The wave of attacks seems to have started late last year with the killing of several Mozambican troops in Macomia district, but it has intensified this year. We reported last week on two confirmed attacks and another attack claimed by IS. The number of confirmed attacks now stands at four, which have all taken place in Mocímboa and Macomia districts, and a further attack off the coast of Mocímboa has been claimed by the group.

A new feature of these latest attacks is that they seem to be linked to IS’ declaration of a global campaign of violence under the banner “kill them wherever you find them”. Wednesday’s attack on the village of Ntotwe in Mocímboa da Praia district took place on the same day as suicide bombings in Iran, which are now confirmed as having been carried out by IS’ Afghan branch. The attacks in Cabo Delgado recently, marked by killings of civilians as well as troops and the burning of buildings, certainly fit that description, and suggest at first glance that the insurgents’ previous strategy to win over hearts and minds of disaffected locals has been abandoned.

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