Since 2017, Cabo Delgado, Mozambique’s northernmost province, is the scene of a deadly insurrection. While foreigners have joined in the name of jihad, most of the Mozambican rank and file militants are motivated by their perceived socio-economic exclusion amid major mineral and hydrocarbon discoveries in the region. The conflict threatens national stability, just as Mozambique is fulfilling a peace deal with the country’s main opposition group in the center of Mozambique, and risks becoming a new frontier for global jihad to exploit. Crisis Group advocates for bespoke military support from external actors, dialogue with the Mozambican rank and file and measures to address the underlying frustrations that led these militants to take up arms.
Rwandan and southern African troops have helped authorities fight an Islamist insurgency in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique’s northernmost province. The threat is greatly lowered but not yet gone. Maputo will need more military assistance as well as a nudge to address the conflict’s political roots.
Islamist militants pushed deeper into southern districts of Cabo Delgado and continued attacks elsewhere in province, seizing large quantities of weapons and ammunition.
Insurgents expanded offensive in southern Cabo Delgado province. In Namuno district, Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) 1 Nov attacked police’s Rapid Intervention Unit garrison at Minhanha village, reportedly killing two soldiers and stealing weapons and ammunition; 5 Nov entered Pararene village, killing at least two civilians; local militiamen known as Naparama 10 Nov pursued and killed five insurgents, captured at least ten after Nanrapa village came under attack. International Organization for Migration (IOM) 8 Nov said over 16,000 displaced by violence in Namuno since 29 Oct. Suspected ISMP 12-14 Nov for first time crossed into Balama district further west, killing at least five people in Muripa, Mualia and Marica villages. In Montepuez district, Naparamas and ISMP 22 Nov clashed in Nairoto area, reportedly leaving several insurgents dead; five Naparamas also beheaded after being captured.
Violence persisted in northern and central districts of Cabo Delgado. In Muidumbe district, alleged ISMP militants throughout month attacked Mandava, Litapata and Muambula villages, killing and kidnapping several civilians; 20 Nov ambushed and killed senior police officer and three other people in Xitaxi village. IOM reported 45,000 displaced 28 Oct-25 Nov by violence in Muidumbe. In Macomia district, suspected ISMP insurgents 10, 17 Nov reportedly killed five soldiers and looted weapons and ammunition in Nguida village. In Nangade district, ISMP 8 Nov attacked security forces’ post at Ngalonga village, capturing large quantities of weapons and ammunitions; 15 Nov ambushed Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) convoy near Mungano village, reportedly injuring five Tanzanian troops; SAMIM forces 29 Nov allegedly attacked ISMP base in Ngonga area, killing scores of insurgent but losing two soldiers.
In other important developments. Govt around 22 Nov reopened key port of Mocímboa da Praia after two-year closure amid violence. After police late Oct detained journalist Arlindi Chissale in Cabo Delgado, public prosecutor’s office 3 Nov accused him of collecting information to foment terrorism; Chissale, who was granted provisional release next day, said he was being repressed because of his links to opposition.
The question is whether [the insurgency in northern Mozambique] can be nipped in the bud at this juncture without spreading further.
In this episode of The Horn’s mini-series exploring jihadism along the East African coast, Alan Boswell talks to Dr. Adriano Nuvunga about what caused the insurgency in Mozambique to grow and the need for a coordinated regional strategy that addresses its root causes.
This special mini-series of Crisis Group’s The Horn explores jihadism along the Swahili coast. In this first episode, Alan Boswell talks to Ngala Chome about the history of militant ideologies in Eastern Africa and how states can better address their growing threat.
Online event, in partnership with the South African weekly newspaper Mail & Guardian, to discuss how to prevent the Cabo Delgado insurrection from escalating into a new frontier for global jihadism.
Deadly conflict in Mozambique’s ruby- and natural gas-rich northernmost coastal province feeds on a mix of colonial-era tensions, inequality and Islamist militancy. To tame the insurrection, Maputo needs to use force, with bespoke assistance from outside partners, and to carefully address underlying grievances.
This week on Hold Your Fire!, Richard Atwood and guest co-host Comfort Ero talk to Crisis Group’s Deputy Africa Director Dino Mahtani about the violence in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado region, Maputo’s response and prospects for a regional intervention.
The U.S. has designated two armed groups in the DRC and in Mozambique as terrorist organisations, claiming they are affiliated with the Islamic State, and creating potential legal peril for peacemakers who may deal with them. Crisis Group analyses the implications.
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