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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

Unchanged Situation

Amid sustained offensive by govt forces and its allies, Islamist militants launched series of attacks in far north; counter-insurgency efforts reportedly expanded to Niassa province. In far north Cabo Delgado province, Islamist militants 3 Sept reportedly staged multiple attacks on military positions in Mocìmboa da Praia district; death toll unknown. Militants mid-month used IED reportedly containing landmine elements to ambush Rwandan armoured columns on Mbau-Indegue road in southern Mocìmboa da Praia; incident suggests return of landmine use in Mozambique and new insurgent tactic involving IEDs. President Nyusi 7 Sept claimed nearly all towns and villages in Cabo Delgado back in govt hands, while joint Mozambican and Rwandan forces by next day reportedly reached key insurgent base ‘Siri 1’ in southern Mocìmboa da Praia. Southern Africa regional bloc SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) 14 Sept captured insurgent base south of Messalo river, Macomia district; 25 Sept killed 17 militants and lost Tanzanian soldier in raid on insurgent base near Chitama settlement, Nangade district. Fifteen insurgents mid-month surrendered to authorities near Quiterajo administrative post, Macomia, claimed desertions were high among combatants; govt forces, likely working with SAMIM, 22 Sept struck insurgent camp near Quiterajo, reportedly killing five militants and rescuing 87 civilians held captive. In Quissanga district, militants reportedly moving south away from joint force operations 16-20 Sept killed at least 22 civilians in four villages; 23 Sept reportedly launched series of attacks across Quissanga, killing at least five. After Rwandan President Paul Kagame 5 Sept said Rwandan forces had gathered intelligence of potential militant expansion into Niassa province (which shares border with Cabo Delgado), Mozambican, Rwandan and SAMIM troops reportedly deployed there as of 11 Sept. Meanwhile, NGO Human Rights Watch 7 Sept called on authorities to investigate allegations of sexual exploitation and abuse of displaced women in exchange for humanitarian aid in Cabo Delgado. In Sofala province in centre, suspected members of Renamo Military Junta (JMR), armed dissident faction of opposition Renamo party, 9 Sept killed one in Chinapanimba village, Muanza district. Meanwhile, JMR leader Mariano Nhongo 8 Sept warned JMR “will never disappear”, called on govt to negotiate.
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Reports & Briefings

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. 

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.