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A major attack on the town of Mocímboa da Praia in recent days has culminated in the capture of the town’s heavily defended port by insurgents, according to multiple sources on Tuesday evening.

The Islamic State terror group released a series of images through its communications channels, which they claimed showed soldiers killed in attacks by their Mozambican affiliate on two barracks at Mocímboa da Praia, and weapons and ammunition that had been captured.

The insurgents’ effort to take the town and its port began on the night of 5-6 August. Much of the town quickly fell to the insurgents, but navy soldiers, known as fuzileiros, defended the port until Tuesday, 11 August, when they ran out of ammunition and were unable to keep the insurgents at bay.

Helicopter gunships operated by South African mercenary outfit Dyck Advisory Group (DAG) provided some air support to government troops, but their effectiveness was reduced by the fact that they are still based out of Pemba, meaning they can spend less than 15 minutes over Mocímboa da Praia before having to return to refuel, according to a military expert who is watching the Cabo Delgado conflict closely.

DAG also delivered supplies of ammunition to the fuzileiros, but dropped it so far from where the fighting was taking place that a number of fuzileiros were killed in efforts to retrieve it, the expert said, citing military sources.

Power and communications links to the town were severed some days ago, with Vodacom the last phone network still standing until Monday, 10 August.

Mocímboa da Praia’s port is of strategic importance to northern Cabo Delgado, including for the gas projects in Palma district to the north of Mocímboa da Praia — which has also been without power and communications for almost a week because of damage to infrastructure in Mocímboa da Praia, Mediafax reported this week.

The insurgents, who began their campaign of violence in 2017 by taking Mocímboa da Praia for two days, last attempted to take the town at the end of June but were beaten back by the Mozambican military and police, collectively known as the Security and Defence Forces.

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