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Insurgents in Cabo Delgado are apparently allowing large numbers of hostages to leave their bases in Macomia, Muidumbe and Mocímboa da Praia districts, as food shortages start to take their toll.

Sources in Macomia town estimate between 50 and 80 women, children, and elderly people have arrived there in recent days, having emerged onto the road that runs from Macomia to Awasse in Mocímboa da Praia, in particular around the villages of Chai and Muagamula.

Rwandan media said on Wednesday that 120 women, men and children arrived at a joint Mozambican-Rwandan military base this week, having escaped insurgent bases.

Some sources who interacted with some of the women in the grounds of the Macomia Health Centre, where some women spend time and draw water, said they were allowed to go home, but on the pretext that they should go to collect cassava to feed themselves and their families, their husbands, or other members of the insurgency.

"They were told by the Al Shababs to go and get cassava, but they did not return. The next day another group of women was told to go and get something, [but] they do not return; the insurgents do not worry, and they send them again. So they are indirectly telling them to go home,” a local source told Zitamar.

The women and children, now in the custody of the authorities, are described as being thin and showing signs of anaemia and malnutrition.

The Rwandan newspaper The New Times, tweeted on Wednesday that 120 escapees — 40 children, 30 men, and 50 women — had arrived at the joint base in Mocímboa da Praia. The report said 23 of the group had been found to be terrorists.

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.