Rwanda security forces are trying to stop civilians fleeing the town of Mocímboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado province after insurgents attacks reached within 5km of the town on 5 January, local sources told Zitamar News.
Panic spread throughout Mocímboa da Praia after insurgents killed four civilians, including a 27 year-old local community worker for the charity Médecins Sans Frontières, in Chimbanga village just outside the town.
Many people, including civil servants, nurses, and teachers, sought to leave the town for the towns of Mueda and Pemba, but Rwandan troops blocked the roads and ordered all vehicles to return, according to local sources. The troops arranged a meeting with community representatives on Sunday and instructed the population not to flee, assuring them that patrols were underway to secure the area and reinforcements were arriving from Nacala in Nampula province.
Residents were allowed to leave the town from Monday on the condition they do not carry beds, furniture and personal property indicating they are abandoning their homes, a source claimed.
Cabo Delgado has seen a sudden escalation in insurgent activity in recent days, with Islamic State claiming responsibility for five attacks since the start of the new year, all in Mocímboa da Praia and Macomia districts. On 3 January, IS announced a global military offensive, dubbed the “kill them where you find them” campaign, committing all its affiliate groups to intensify attacks.