Islamist terrorists have capture a village around 20 km from the Afungi peninsula, home of the country’s major LNG plans.
The AFP said an attack had taken place at the village of Mute on December 7. Militants targeted soldiers and burnt homes. Reports said fighting continued into Tuesday.
It was unclear whether the government had managed to dislodge the attackers as of Wednesday morning. Some reports have said private military contractors Dyck Advisory Group (DAG) is involved in the offensive to retake Mute.
Mute is between the Afungi LNG site and Mocimboa da Praia, a port seized by Islamists in August. Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa (ASWJ) has grown in prominence since 2017 and has been linked to Islamic State (IS).
Militants carried out an attack on an oil company convoy near Mute in February, GardaWorld has said. The attack wounded four people.
Total, operator of Mozambique LNG, signed a security pact with the government in August. This provided for a Joint Task Force to safeguard work in Afungi.
The insurgency in northern Mozambique is spreading into southern Tanzania. In November, ASWJ carried out its first act of piracy. The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED) said ASWJ had seized boats and taken them to Mocimboa da Praia.
US Coordinator for Counterterrorism Nathan Sales held a special briefing on Mozambique on December 8. The official talked about improving border security.
“We think that working with our partners on the ground, we will be able to coordinate our efforts better to contain terrorists, to degrade them, and ultimately to defeat them. But ultimately that requires maintaining control over borders and making sure the terrorists don’t have freedom of movement across international boundaries,” Sales said.
The official went on to say that the way to tackle terrorism was “not to send in a bunch of mercenaries to loot natural resources and then abscond”. Sales was responding to a question that referenced Russia’s state-connect Wagner Group. The Russian group had been involved in the fight against ASWJ but results were poor.
The best way to tackle terrorism, he said, is through “building rule-of-law-compliant institutions within governments – in the law enforcement sector, in the justice sector”.
The Mozambique government has been reluctant to accept external help and has restricted access to Cabo Delgado.