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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.

CrisisWatch Mozambique

Improved Situation

Lull in violence recorded in far north Cabo Delgado province as Mozambican, Rwandan and SADC troops increased coordination effort against jihadists; latter however retained capacity to mount attacks on security clusters in Nangade district. Govt forces early March engaged jihadist insurgents south of Nangade town, killing at least one near Chicuaia Velha village 3 April, and ambushing others in Chianga village next day. Islamist militants 4 April killed one further south in Nambedo area, Ntamba Administrative Post, and next day attacked military outpost in Mandimba village east of Nangade town; three soldiers reportedly killed. In response, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) troops reportedly moved out from Nangade district capital to reinforce Mandimba. Voice of America news outlet 18 April reported militants around 14 April abducted at least ten people, including women and children, near Chibau village, south of Nangade town. Militants 30 April returned to Chibau, killing one villager, and same day killed another civilian in Litingina village. In neighbouring Mueda district, combined force of Mozambican and Rwandan troops 22 April intercepted insurgents in Chipingo locality on their way to Muiha village in Nangade district; toll unknown. In Macomia district, some SAMIM troops based in Macomia town relocated north to site between Quinto Congresso and Nova Zambezia villages following spate of insurgent attacks in area since late 2021; Rwandan forces in recent weeks have also deployed around Macomia coastal towns of Quiterajo and Mucojo, outside their usual area of operation, reflecting more coordinated squeeze on insurgents. Elsewhere in Macomia, Matemo island remained under curfew following major incursion in March, with marine traffic blocked. Heads of state and govt from SADC’s Organ Troika, representatives of countries supporting SAMIM, and President Nyusi 12 April met virtually, extended SAMIM’s mandate for three months and approved mission’s transition from “rapid deployment” to “multidimensional” force taking on greater peacekeeping responsibilities. South Africa 14 April extended its own troop mandate for SADC intervention for 12 months; mandate of SAMIM troops had thus far been agreed multilaterally for periods of three months.

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Reports & Briefings

Winning Peace in Mozambique’s Embattled North

Also available in Português

Stemming the Insurrection in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado

Also available in Português

In The News

8 Apr 2021
The question is whether [the insurgency in northern Mozambique] can be nipped in the bud at this juncture without spreading further. AFP

Piers Pigou

Senior Consultant, Southern Africa

Latest Updates

Event Recording / Africa

Insurrection in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado - Preventing a New Jihadist Front

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. 

Report / Africa

Stemming the Insurrection in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado

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.

Also available in Português
Podcast / Africa

The Insurrection in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado

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.

Q&A / Africa

Understanding the New U.S. Terrorism Designations in Africa

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.