Troops from the joint Mozambican, Rwandan and SADC force were seen last week in certain districts of Niassa province, according to local sources, in an operation apparently aimed at clearing out possible terrorist positions and hideouts.
The operation also aimed at preventing terrorists from escaping from Cabo Delgado into neighbouring Niassa, according to a similar report from a risk assessment company, seen by Zitamar News.
Speaking to Rwandan state television last week, Rwandan president Paul Kagame said his country’s forces had gathered intelligence suggesting that insurgents intended to expand into Niassa province. “Having secured Cabo Delgado, their plan was to take over another — a province called Niassa,” he said.
Research published earlier this year by Maputo-based think tank IESE found that the insurgency had installed “radical religious cells and recruitment mechanisms outside Cabo Delgado, particularly in Nampula and Niassa.”
Cabo Ligado’s monthly report for December 2020 also noted that concern about the insurgency spreading to Niassa has been increasing. Economist João Mosca, director of Mozambique’s Rural Environment Observatory, said in January 2021 that insurgents facing mounting counter offensives in Cabo Delgado could push into Niassa to find areas to live further away from government forces, noting also that Niassa suffers from the same elevated poverty levels and extreme inequality that exist in Cabo Delgado, potentially making it a fertile recruiting ground for the insurgency. Last December, Mozambican Prime Minister Carlos Agostinho do Rosario specifically urged displaced people living in Niassa to resist insurgent recruitment, “demonstrating that the government itself is concerned about Niassa being dragged into the conflict,” according to Cabo Ligado.
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.