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Security forces fight to restore order to southern Cabo Delgado

Mozambican and Rwandan security forces battle insurgents for control of Chiúre district, displacing 20,000 people

Mozambican and Rwandan security forces are battling to drive Islamic State-backed insurgents out of southern Cabo Delgado province’s Chiúre district as more than 20,000 people have fled their homes, according to the International Organization of Migration (IOM) and local government officials.

Rwandan troops based in Ancuabe district joined the Mozambican Armed Defence Forces (FADM) in Chiúre on 21 February and clashed that day with insurgents around the villages of Onmala and Mahipa, local sources reported. The insurgents retreated to M’mala village, which they ransacked the next day, before moving west along the bank of the Lúrio river onto Ntonhane village, a source told Zitamar News.

Manuel Salimo Manussa, the district administrator of Eráti in Nampula province, on the other side of the Lúrio from Chiúre, estimated that more than 20,000 people had been displaced in total, 13,640 of whom have registered in a reception centre in his district. The IOM reported that 26,690 people had been displaced across Cabo Delgado between 22 December and 20 February. Videos circulated online on Tuesday showed thousands of civilians fleeing toward Nampula on the N1 highway.

A large force of insurgents, estimated by local sources to number around 200, has been marauding across Chiúre since 9 February, burning churches and homes in the villages of Nacoja, Mazeze, Nguira, and Napala. On 17 February, insurgents killed four people in Samuel Magaia village, posting pictures of the beheading of three of them via Islamic State (IS) social media.

Yesterday IS social media also shared photos appearing to show insurgents burning and desecrating churches and Christian symbols in several villages in Chiúre.

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