Skip to content

Insurgent attack leaves Macomia town shattered

The attack began before 5am with at least 100 insurgents entering the town, the capital of Macomia district

Islamic State-backed insurgents ransacked the major town of Macomia in Cabo Delgado province following a dawn assault on Friday in which over 20 soldiers may have been killed, local sources told Zitamar News.

The attack began before 5am with at least 100 insurgents entering the town, the capital of Macomia district, via the neighbourhoods of Xinavane in the southwest, Bangala in the south, and Nanga in the east, where they clashed with Mozambican security forces. Much of the population immediately fled into the nearby woods.

Troops from Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique were dispatched from the provincial capital Pemba to reinforce Macomia. The South African Ministry of Defence confirmed that its forces had “encountered” the insurgents on Friday and insisted that it suffered no casualties. 

The Armed Defence Forces of Mozambique (FADM) acknowledged the attack in a statement issued on Friday afternoon, which claimed that the attack lasted around 45 minutes and that Mozambican troops killed one insurgent and injured a commander, whilst taking no casualties themselves. 

However, Zitamar understands that insurgents remained in Macomia town until Saturday and several FADM soldiers were killed. Local sources reported seeing many dead bodies on the ground, with one estimating there were at least 10, while another counted 23. The exact number of fatalities has not yet been confirmed as security forces have prevented public access to Macomia town.

Insurgents did not appear to target civilians, though at least two were wounded in the crossfire of the battle. However, insurgents systematically looted supplies from NGO warehouses, including the World Food Programme, and shops owned by foreigners, mainly Bangladeshis. They also stole several vehicles, including 4x4s, a car carrying medicine, and a large truck. Local sources told Zitamar that insurgents distributed the looted food and goods to local civilians.

Another local source reported that once insurgents had returned to their base in Mucojo, on the Macomia coast, they boasted in a meeting of killing four soldiers, three Local Force militia members, two police officers, and six “disobedients”, which may refer to non-Muslims.

Zitamar can confirm that insurgents killed one Local Force commander, named Mr Ngarare, at Xinavane. 

Healthcare charity Médecins Sans Frontières said it had relocated some of its staff and suspended its local activities following the attack.