Armed insurgents disguised as Mozambican soldiers launched an unprecedented incursion into Namuno district in southern Cabo Delgado on Saturday morning, killing up to two people in the village of Marrumeia and forcing almost 1,000 to flee their homes.
The insurgents arrived in the village in a Mahindra pickup truck, typically driven by security forces, wearing the uniforms of the Mozambican Armed Defence Forces and tried to organise a meeting with the local community, a local source told Zitamar. Suspicious village leaders reportedly contacted the district administrator and were informed that these men were likely not real soldiers and residents should try to escape.
As villagers attempted to flee the village, insurgents began firing their weapons. The source claimed multiple people were killed and several more were injured but did not report the exact number. An unverified message circulating on social media claimed that the village leader and his wife were beheaded.
A picture allegedly showing one of those injured in the attack with a bloodied leg has been shared online.
News outlet VoA reported that there were at least 35 attackers, some armed with guns, but mostly with machetes and bayonets.
Several buildings, homes and vehicles were also reportedly burned in the attack. On 30 October, NASA FIRMS, which observes fires using satellite imagery, detected a fire directly over a village in Namuno, thought to be Marrumeia.
The International Organization for Migration’s Displacement Tracking Matrix announced on 1 November that 958 people were recorded fleeing from Marrumeia and the surrounding locality to Namuno district headquarters, 50km to the north, following the attack on Saturday.
Over the last two weeks, insurgents have pushed south from Ancuabe, where they attacked the Gemrock ruby mine on 20 October, through Chiure to the Lúrio river. This group appears to have divided with some moving west to Namuno while others remained in Chiure, where they attacked the village of Nihamate on 29 October and burned several homes.