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Top officer killed in insurgent attack on Mocímboa da Praia

Fighting in Mocimboa claimed the life of the most senior military officer in the town, among an unknown number of dead on both sides of the conflict, as well as civilians

The bodies of Mozambican soldiers killed in Saturday’s fight for Mocímboa da Praia, including a senior naval commander who was the highest ranking officer posted in the town, were taken by ship from the town’s port to Pemba on Sunday morning, from where they would be returned to their families.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the raid in the early hours of Saturday, 27 June, with a post on social media saying the IS Central African Province killed ten members of Mozambique’s security and defence forces. According to a source within the government forces, seven insurgents were killed when the government forces initially repelled the attack — but the insurgents regrouped later in the morning and surprised the government forces with a counterattack that killed an unknown number, including Commander Horacio Charles.

Before being put in charge of the military detachment at Mocímboa da Praia, Charles was one of the top officers in the force guarding the LNG project area on the Afungi peninsula, including heading up liaison with the gas companies, according to a well placed source.

At the time of writing on Monday, it was unclear who had control of the town. Government forces had continued battling for the town throughout Saturday, with air support from helicopter gunships operated by mercenary organisation Dyck Advisory Group (DAG). There are thought to have been many more fatalities on both sides.

Saturday’s attack came in the wake of raids by police on neighbourhoods in Mocímboa da Praia suspected to be harbouring insurgents. A security analyst monitoring the conflict in Cabo Delgado said the attack was probably linked to the raids, which may have “triggered an exodus of young disillusioned individuals to join the insurgency.”

One young man is known to have died at the hands of the police after being beaten in one of the raids. Binu Selemane was beaten into a coma, and passed away at around midday on Friday, a family source told Zitamar. His funeral was set for Saturday, but the plans were disrupted by the insurgent attack.

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.