Insurgents attacked the village of Nairoto, in Cabo Delgado’s Montepuez district, late on Sunday night, killing five and prompting the evacuation of a gold mining project majority owned by the UK-based mining company Gemfields.
A group of at least 30 insurgents struck Nairoto at around midnight armed with rocket propelled grenades and light machine guns, clashing with government security forces, killing five of them. Several houses and vehicles were also destroyed in the attack, one source reported.
Gemfields issued a statement on Tuesday which acknowledged the attack and announced that Nairoto Resources, its early stage gold mining project 15km northeast of Nairoto, “has initiated the process of evacuating operational employees and contractors, and therefore operations at the site have ceased.”
Gemfields’ other project in the region, the Montepuez Ruby Mine 80km south of Nairoto, continues to operate as normal. Gemfields owns 75% in both companies, alongside minority partner Mwiriti, owned by Frelimo veteran General Raimundo Pachinuapa.
The insurgents who attacked Nairoto are likely to be a raiding party based around the Messalo river near Muidumbe, according to local sources. These insurgents have been active in Montepuez since at least 4 February when the village of Namoro, about 10km south of Nairoto, was burned.
Nairoto and Namoro are situated along the R698 road between Montepuez to Mueda. This is one of the two main roads connecting the north and south of Cabo Delgado, the other being the N380 between Pemba and Mocímboa da Praia, which has also been targeted in recent days.