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Islamic State militants pushed toward southern districts of Cabo Delgado province, and opposition continued to reject October municipal elections’ results.
Islamic State militants moved south in Cabo Delgado province. Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) combatants late Oct-early Nov moved into Cabo Delgado’s southern districts of Meluco and Quissanga, the latter for the first time in a year, leading army to fortify positions against potential attack on provincial capital Pemba. Move may have been forced by military operations in Catupa forest area straddling Mocímboa da Praia, Muidumbe and Macomia districts, or be part of ISMP efforts to recruit and rebuild strength, with reports of peaceful interactions with residents in Quissanga; concerns also grew that group may try to free militants imprisoned in Pemba or neighbouring Metuge district. Meanwhile, militants launched several attacks in northern districts, forcing thousands to flee. In Macomia, combatants 10 Nov attacked Novo Cabo Delgado village, killing three and wounding four including community militia members. In Muidumbe, militants 12 Nov killed four people in Lagoa Nguri area, and 16 Nov killed another two and took several hostages in Mapate village.
Opposition protests over contested municipal elections continued, with one killed. Strains between ruling FRELIMO and main opposition RENAMO parties remained high following electoral violence in wake of October municipal elections. Interior Minister Pascoal Ronda 1 Nov announced 149 people arrested during unrest. RENAMO in Nov continued demonstrations and boycott of parliament to denounce widespread irregularities during vote; police 16 Nov used live bullets to repress opposition protest in Angoche town, Nampula province, killing one and wounding several others. Constitutional Council 24 Nov proclaimed final results with FRELIMO winning 56 municipalities, RENAMO four, smaller opposition party one, and ordered re-vote in four others, set for 10 Dec; preliminary results announced late Oct by electoral commission gave FRELIMO 64 of 65 municipalities. RENAMO 27 Nov announced it would file extraordinary appeal to annul Constitutional Council’s judgment validating ballot, arguing it jeopardises fundamental rights.
Protests erupted as opposition denounced fraud in municipal elections, with violence and repression leaving several people dead; insurgent activity remained low in northern Cabo Delgado province.
Municipal elections marred by deadly violence. Municipal elections, seen as test for presidential election due in 2024, held 11 Oct. Election day went relatively smoothly, but violence broke out in following days. Notably, police 12 Oct brutally dispersed gathering of RENAMO opposition party supporters in Chiúre district, Cabo Delgado province, killing 16-year-old boy. Ruling FRELIMO party 15 Oct claimed victory in all but one of 65 municipalities. Opposition immediately accused FRELIMO of influencing vote counting and 17 Oct held nationwide protests; police crackdown reportedly left dozens wounded notably in capital Maputo and Nampula city. Unrest worsened after electoral commission 26 Oct confirmed FRELIMO’s victory in all but one municipality. Opposition supporters 27 Oct took to streets in several cities to decry results and dismiss elections as rigged; police suppressed protests notably in Nampula, with nine civilians and one police officer reportedly injured, and 60 people detained. Violence next day broke out again, including in Maputo as security forces reportedly used tear gas and live bullets to disperse protesters; at least three people killed. Police late Oct accused RENAMO of using homemade explosives during unrest, while National Human Rights Commission 30 Oct criticised “indiscriminate” use of force by police against demonstrators.
Activity of Islamic State-affiliated militants remained limited in Cabo Delgado. In Macomia district, suspected Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) militants 13 Oct killed two hunters near Chai village, and around 20 Oct reportedly kidnapped two fishermen near Litandacua village. In Mocímboa da Praia district, fear of ISMP attacks early Oct led to displacement of almost 5,000 people from several villages; local source claimed militants 16 Oct kidnapped at least three men from Awasse village.
Insurgent activity decreased in northern Cabo Delgado province following August killing of militant leader; political tensions persisted ahead of October municipal elections.
Militant activity slowed after death of group leader. After security forces 22 Aug killed Ibn Omar, reported leader of Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP), insurgent activity relatively decreased; death yet to be confirmed from non-govt sources. Despite ISMP cells reportedly pursuing hearts and minds strategy in some coastal areas, group of militants 14 Sept attacked Naquitengue village, Mocímboa da Praia district, killing 11 civilians. Hundreds of civilians 20 Sept also fled Pangane village, Macomia district, after militants launched forced recruitment drive.
Build-up to October municipal elections continued amid concerns of violence. Main opposition party RENAMO leader, Ossufo Momade, late Aug accused ruling FRELIMO party of using police for partisan purposes. Police chief 18 Sept denied his force’s involvement in attempts to assassinate political leaders after reported attacks on Nampula mayor in Aug and Quelimane mayor 11 Sept, both from RENAMO. President Nyusi 25 Sept called on candidates to avoid “incendiary and intimidating speeches” during campaign for 11 Oct municipal elections, which formally began 26 Sept. Opposition party Democratic Movement of Mozambique 28 Sept accused police of illegally detaining its members in Sofala and Cabo Delgado provinces.
Border with Tanzania re-opened. Namoto border crossing between Cabo Delgado and Tanzania’s Mtwara province 11 Sept reopened after two-year closure due to insecurity; move should help boost cross-border trade (see Tanzania).
Insurgent activity against govt forces remained high in Macomia district in northern Cabo Delgado province; authorities postponed district elections.
Macomia district continued to be hotspot of Cabo Delgado conflict. Suspected Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) fighters 1 Aug killed nine soldiers near Ilala village; Southern African Development Community Mission to Mozambique (SAMIM) patrol hours later engaged insurgent cell, causing unknown number of casualties. ISMP militants 5-8 Aug killed at least seven soldiers in clashes near Catupa forest, and 22 Aug ambushed govt and SAMIM forces convoy travelling to Quiterajo village, killing nine. Army 23-25 Aug announced killing three senior ISMP executives, including commander of operations in Cabo Delgado, in Macomia forests; report is yet to be confirmed by Rwanda and SAMIM. Meanwhile, ISMP cells pursued hearts and minds strategy in some coastal areas, with militants 3 Aug buying goods and food from residents in Pangane (Macomia) and Marere (Mocímboa da Praia district) villages.
Reports of indiscipline within security forces in Cabo Delgado continued to emerge. Rwandan soldiers 1 Aug reportedly intervened after police beat local in Mocímboa da Praia town. Meanwhile, significant number of police officers and soldiers in Aug reportedly had salaries delayed for second month; delays in salary payments could add to indiscipline within security forces, creating additional hurdle in counter-insurgency efforts.
President Nyusi visit to Cabo Delgado overshadowed by postponed elections. As Nyusi visited Palma town and his home district Mueda, National Assembly 3 Aug approved indefinite postponement of district elections initially scheduled for 2024, due to financial and security constraints. Main opposition party RENAMO said decision threatens democracy and will allow ruling party to entrench hold on power. Meanwhile, mayor of Nampula city and RENAMO party member Paulo Vahanle alleged police officer 22 Aug attempted to kill him; RENAMO 26 Aug threatened to “bring country to a halt” in case of attacks on party members.
Islamic State militants launched significant attacks on security forces in coastal areas, prompting govt to step up counter-insurgency operations; Southern African regional force’s mandate extended by another year.
Islamic State insurgents increased pressure on security forces in coastal districts. Suspected Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) combatants 30 June-1 July launched attacks in border area between Mocímboa da Praia and Macomia districts, notably killing at least ten special unit soldiers in Cobre village; 6 July ambushed Rapid Intervention Unit convoy near Mbau town, Mocímboa da Praia district, killing seven police officers and looting weapons; and 18 July attacked military position in Cobre village, Macomia district, killing unknown number of soldiers. Violence continued to impact civilians despite ISMP’s apparent drive to avoid casualties; militants 16 July robbed and beheaded two fishermen in Litamanda village, Macomia district.
Govt forces redoubled counter-insurgency efforts in Macomia. Govt forces supported by soldiers from Rwanda and Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission to Mozambique (SAMIM) in July stepped up counter-insurgency drive launched in June along Macomia coast. Military prevented some traders and civilians from entering district with large amount of goods amid reports ISMP militants have been resupplying in district; restrictions may escalate tensions between troops and civilians, particularly in areas affected by food insecurity.
Southern African bloc renewed mission’s mandate. During extraordinary Troika summit, Southern African Development Community 11 July renewed SAMIM’s mandate for additional year; assessment circulated during summit proposed mission’s complete withdrawal by July 2024 or July 2025, while stressing work still needed to empower Mozambican forces to replace foreign military personnel in areas reclaimed from insurgents.
Election preparations continued. Ahead of municipal elections scheduled for 11 Oct, 23 political parties, coalitions, and citizens groups registered by 14 July deadline; registration of candidates opened 20 July. Main opposition party RENAMO 25 July said it was open to coalitions with other parties for local elections, but reported no formal contact underway.
Insurgent activity persisted at lower intensity in northern Cabo Delgado province; preparations for October municipal elections moved forward.
Islamic State militants remained active mostly in coastal Macomia district. Graves containing bodies of three individuals who went missing in early May in Chitoio village, Macomia district, discovered 5 June. Suspected Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) militants sighted 7 June around coastal village of Pequeue in Macomia. Meanwhile, security forces mid-June reportedly reduced escorts on N380 road between Macomia district headquarters and Mucojo town. ISMP militants continued to engage communities peacefully in certain coastal areas, while also warning civilians against cooperation with security forces. Notably, militants 5 June searched bus near Ilala village along Macomia coast but let the passengers go unharmed, and 21 June reportedly entered Kalugo village in Mocímboa da Praia district, bought food and clothing before leaving.
Authorities appeared set to step up counter-insurgency operations in Macomia. Military 19 June reportedly ordered residents of several villages along Macomia coast to evacuate to make way for govt, Rwandan and Southern African forces operations, and 21 June blocked all travel to Mucojo town from Macomia town. Soldiers’ indiscipline continued to fuel distrust. Notably, security forces 9 June killed schoolteacher in Pamunda neighbourhood of Mocímboa da Praia district.
Ahead of October municipal elections, voter registration closed. Voter registration for municipal elections scheduled for 11 October concluded 3 June, amid accusations that as many as 1.5mn people, particularly in opposition-leaning areas in central and northern Mozambique, had been unable to register. In Cabo Delgado, however, more people than expected registered, notably in Pemba, Mocímboa da Praia, Ibo, Chiure, and Balama municipalities, which host villagers displaced by conflict.
End of holy month of Ramadan and rainy season coincided with resurgence of Islamist militant attacks in northern province.
Violence resurged in Cabo Delgado after weeks-long lull. Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) from late April stepped up activity in Cabo Delgado province (north), mostly along Messalo river. Notably in Macomia district, suspected ISMP and Local Forces (militia allied with govt) around 5 May clashed near Litandacua village, with at least two Local Forces injured; suspected ISMP 14 May launched assault on base of Southern African Development Community mission in Macomia town but were repelled; presence of militants also reported around 26 May near Novo Cabo Delgado and Litandacua villages. In Muidumbe district, govt soldiers and Local Forces 3 May engaged suspected ISMP in Mandela village, reportedly killing six. Militants were sighted again in Nangade district, where they have not been seen since Feb, prompting residents who had recently returned home to move back to Nangade district headquarters. Notably, suspected ISMP 19 May briefly abducted 12 civilians in Nkonga village, warning them not to collaborate with security forces; police 24 May ambushed suspected ISMP militants near Ngangolo village, killing five, while police lost two officers.
TotalEnergies published report on Cabo Delgado, key step to restart LNG project. TotalEnergies 23 May released long-awaited report on humanitarian situation in northern province, which will inform deliberations about resuming Mozambique LNG project; report highlighted improvement, particularly with return of displaced persons to Palma and Mocímboa da Praia towns.
Civil society expressed concern over municipal election process. Ahead of municipal elections scheduled for 11 Oct, More Integrity consortium of seven local civil society organisations 16 May called for extension of voter registration period, saying irregularities and equipment breakdowns threaten integrity of registration. National Electoral Commission 19 May announced extension of opening hours for voter registration but refused to extend registration period, citing budgetary constraints. Meanwhile, ruling party Frelimo 3 May submitted draft amendment to change constitution and postpone country’s first district elections scheduled for 2024 as part of 2018 deal on decentralisation and demobilisation of armed wing of main opposition party Renamo; Renamo immediately protested move.
Relative calm persisted in northern Cabo Delgado province during rainy season and holy month of Ramadan; govt legalised local militia to help fight jihadists.
Islamic State insurgents staged limited number of attacks in Cabo Delgado. In first fatal attack since mid-March, Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) 15 April assaulted two positions of govt forces and Local Forces (militias fighting alongside govt) around Miangalewa village in Muidumbe district; at least one Local Forces member was killed, despite Rwandan forces’ intervention. Attacks took place days after group of displaced people returned to Miangalewa, suggesting that holding territory and sustaining return of residents in Muidumbe will be significant challenge. Insurgents had been sighted in area in days prior to attack. Notably, Local Forces patrol 13 April encountered group of insurgents outside Litapata village, killing five; insurgents next day raided nearby Mandava village. Meanwhile, reports in April continued to emerge indicating that insurgent groups – sometimes numbering as many as 50 – are present along coast and trying to establish good relations with villagers, notably 19 April in Nazimoja village south of Mocímboa da Praia district capital, and around 20 April near Quiterajo and Ntoni villages (Macomia district); with new strategy, militants could secure durable support from communities, as national security forces are feared and distrusted.
Govt formalised relations with local militia fighting insurgents in Cabo Delgado. Council of Ministers 5 April approved decree providing legal authority to and regulating functioning of Local Forces in Cabo Delgado to help push back insurgents; step concludes legalisation process after parliament in late 2022 passed law recognising militia as govt-linked force. NGO Human Rights Watch 26 April expressed concern over partnership with “untrained and seemingly uncontrollable militia”, urged govt to prevent violations of international humanitarian laws.
Renamo called for exclusion of Mocímboa da Praia from municipal elections. Main opposition party Renamo continued to press electoral authorities to exclude Mocímboa da Praia district from municipal elections set for 11 Oct as voter registration 20 April started. With voting expected to be limited to municipal area of Mocímboa da Praia town due to security risks in rest of district, Renamo claims concentration of govt security forces in town could influence voter behaviour in ruling party’s favour.
As heavy rains and floods hindered Islamist insurgents’ attacks and military operations, militants continued to engage with locals in attempt to win hearts and minds.
Rainy season slowed insurgent attacks and military operations. Heavy rains and floods in March rendered many roads unusable, with traffic effectively cut off between population centres of Mocímboa da Praia, Mueda, Muidumbe, and Palma. Among few reported security incidents, serious clash 13 March erupted Xitaxi village, Muidumbe district, leaving four Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) insurgents killed and two Mozambican soldiers injured; insurgents 21 March abducted two fishermen in Quiterajo locality, Macomia district. Local militia Força Local continued to support troops from Mozambique and Southern African Development Community Mission to Mozambique (SAMIM) in fighting ISMP. Seven insurgents 1 March surrendered to Força Local in Ngangolo village (Nangade district); clashes between insurgents and Força Local 4 and 14 March left several people dead in Mitope village (Mocímboa da Praia district); Força Local 6 March captured at least three insurgents in Mandava village and 24 March exchanged gunfire with insurgents around villages of Namacule and Mandava (Muidumbe district), with unknown casualties.
Militants continued to engage more peacefully with Cabo Delgado’s population. In apparent bid to gain popular support and ensure durable presence, ISMP insurgents attempted to establish cordial relations with locals and purchased supplies 6-12 March in Marere area (Mocimboa da Praia), 13 and 24 March in Pangane, Mucojo, Rueia and Ningaia villages (Macomia).
TotalEnergies likely to resume operations in coming months. Major contractor on French energy company TotalEnergies-led liquefied natural gas (LNG) project, Saipem, late Feb said it expects that work will restart in July. Recruitment agencies in capital Maputo in Feb also reportedly began contacting former TotalEnergies staff about returning to work. Amid fears that resumption of $20bn project could focus attention of security forces to the detriment of other districts and civilians in Cabo Delgado, report by local NGO Observatorio do Meio Rural 6 March highlighted attempts at economic recovery in Cabo Delgado have disproportionately favoured inland Christians and Makondes, while coastal Muslims and Mwanis continue to face neglect.
Islamist insurgents launched series of attacks on Cabo Delgado province’s main highways during visit of TotalEnergies’ head, while also trying to garner support from residents.
Insurgent attacks persisted notably in Cabo Delgado’s central districts. In Meluco district, alleged Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) 1-4 Feb launched ambushes along N380 road connecting Cabo Delgado’s capital Pemba to province’s north, killing up to seven people near 19 de Outubro village and at least one civilian near Mitambo village. In Mueda district, ISMP 4 Feb attacked Chapa village on R698 road connecting Mueda to Montepuez towns, beheading at least two civilians and kidnapping several others. Further south in Montepuez district, ISMP same day entered Namoro village, also located along R698 road, and set several buildings on fire; 12-13 Feb raided military outpost at Nairoto village, reportedly killing five soldiers and prompting UK-based precious stone mining company Gemfields to 14 Feb evacuate staff from nearby exploration camp. As levels of violence decreased in second half of Feb, govt forces together with Rwandan troops 27 Feb captured at least ten militants after shootout in Makulo, Cabecera and Malinde villages in Mocímboa da Praia district.
Insurgents reached out to villagers in apparent change of strategy. Alleged ISMP militants 3 and 7 Feb appeared in Maculo village, Mocímboa da Praia district, called on residents to cooperate with them rather than with security forces. In Montepuez district, alleged ISMP elements around 9 Feb left handwritten note in settlement near Nairoto village, imploring villagers not to fear insurgency. Emerging trend could aim to garner support from population and secure supply lines to offset ISMP’s gradual losses since deployment of Rwandan and Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique troops in 2021.
TotalEnergies CEO in Cabo Delgado to assess resuming operations. TotalEnergies CEO Patrick Pouyanné 3 Feb visited site of group’s liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in Afungi Peninsula, Palma district, as part of determining when company will resume operations (on hold since April 2021 due to insecurity); same day met with President Nyusi in Pemba as Maputo bets on resumption of LNG project to attract other investors.
Fighting continued in Cabo Delgado province as govt forces and allies redoubled efforts to tackle Islamist insurgency.
Govt launched new counter-insurgency operation in Cabo Delgado. Security forces 1 Jan undertook operation “Vulcão IV” reportedly with support of Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) in bid to clear Messalo River basin in Muidumbe district and nearby forests of northern and western Macomia district. Operation coincided with uptick in insurgent attacks and clashes between security forces and insurgents in both districts. In Macomia, Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) 8 Jan ambushed joint Mozambican and SAMIM force near Litandacua village, claimed injuring several soldiers and stealing military equipment; ISMP 22 Jan again clashed with security forces in Litandacua. In Muidumbe, fighting 9 Jan reportedly erupted between security forces and ISMP in Mandava village, leaving unconfirmed number of casualties; ISMP next day attacked military post at Xitaxi village, killing at least three soldiers, and 15 Jan reportedly launched explosive device attack against govt forces along N380 road. Also in Muidumbe, local militia 19 Jan killed six alleged ISMP militants in Namacule village. Attacks on civilians also persisted in Cabo Delgado. Notably in Nangade district, alleged ISMP 4 Jan raided Chacamba village, less than 10km from district headquarters, beheading one man and kidnapping up to three women; attack coincided with Cabo Delgado governor’s visit to area. In Mocímboa da Praia district, alleged ISMP 25 Jan entered Calugo village, reportedly to resupply themselves.
Rwandan forces expanded area of operations to southern Cabo Delgado. Rwandan security forces 12 Jan confirmed that they had deployed to Ancuabe district in southern Cabo Delgado amid ongoing operations in Palma and Mocímboa da Praia districts in province’s north.
In other important developments. Video 9 Jan emerged online allegedly showing SAMIM troops burning corpses in Nkonga forest of Nangade district in Nov 2022; SAMIM 11 Jan said it “does not condone acts reflected in the video” and announced investigation. UN World Food Programme 27 Jan announced it would as from Feb suspend food aid to people displaced by conflict in Cabo Delgado, Niassa and Nampula provinces.
Islamic State-affiliated insurgents continued to stage attacks in Cabo Delgado province, challenging govt’s normalisation narrative.
Insurgents remained active in northern and central districts of Cabo Delgado. In one of biggest insurgent attacks since foreign intervention started in mid-2021, Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) 6 Dec assaulted army outpost in Nguida village, Macomia district, killing three soldiers and forcing around 100 more to withdraw. After first, unsuccessful attempt 9 Dec, security forces and Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) troops 11-12 Dec launched assault on insurgents’ position in Nguida and retook village. Reports around 12 Dec also emerged of ISMP attacks on nearby Nkoe and Nova Zambezia villages, while suspected ISMP insurgents 20 Dec raided army base near Chai locality, killing four including one soldier. In Mueda district, local militia 7 Dec pursued and killed four insurgents in remote area of Nangumbe forest. In Nangade district, SAMIM troops continued operations, reportedly clashing with suspected ISMP in Nangade Sede area on 6 Dec. In Muidumbe district, bodies of four beheaded civilians found 26 Dec close to Mandava village; two more bodies found same day in nearby Muambula locality; and insurgents 30 Dec killed at least two civilians in Namande village.
Local militia kept up anti-insurgency operations in southern Cabo Delgado. Local militia known as “Naparama”, which has become prominent in fight against insurgents in southern Cabo Delgado since Nov, throughout Dec set up checkpoints and conducted searches in Namuno, Chiure, Balama and Montepuez districts. In Montepuez district, suspected ISMP 10-11 Dec beheaded at least five Naparama militiamen in Nairoto area.
RENAMO failed to complete demobilisation process. Last batch of approximately 350 RENAMO guerrilla fighters 19 Dec refused to demobilise as part of disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration program in Gorongosa district, Sofala province, citing delays in payment of pensions and integration of eligible fighters into security forces. RENAMO however reaffirmed commitment to peace process. About 4,700 guerrillas, about 90% of estimated total, have demobilised to date.
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.
Jihadists in Cabo Delgado province continued to terrorise local population and again headed south toward neighbouring Nampula province as insurgency entered its sixth year.
Jihadist attacks continued in northern and central Cabo Delgado province. In Macomia district, suspected Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) 8-9 Oct raided Litandacua, Nguida and Namituco villages, killing at least one; local militia in Namituco reportedly ran out of ammunition, allowing insurgents to run over area. ISMP 13 Oct again engaged local militia at Litandacua village, killing at least three militiamen. In first incursion into Macomia town since 2020, suspected ISMP 23 Oct stormed Napulubo neighbourhood, killing between three and five civilians. In Muidumbe district, alleged ISMP 9 Oct attacked Mandava village, reportedly killing at least five people. In Nangade district, suspected ISMP 10-11 Oct killed one civilian in attack on health centre in Ntoli village, suggesting they face shortages of medical supplies; 14-16 Oct launched raids on Namuembe, Ngalonga and Liche villages, killing at least two civilians and looting goods; further attacks centred around Liche village 26-28 Oct left unknown number of casualties as local militia clashed with militants. Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique and govt forces 4-7 Oct dismantled several insurgents’ camps in Nangade.
Insurgents headed south toward Nampula province. In Ancuabe district in southern Cabo Delgado, alleged ISMP 17 Oct launched coordinated attack on four villages in Meza locality, killing unconfirmed number of civilians; 20 Oct attacked ruby mine belonging to Indian-owned Gemrock Company, reportedly forcing hundreds of residents to flee and evacuation of nearby mine in Montepuez district. In Chiure district along border with Nampula province, alleged ISMP 28-29 Oct attacked three villages and beheaded one civilian. ISMP 29 Oct also launched first attack in Namuno district, killing at least two people in Murrameia village.
RENAMO guerrilla demobilisation program nears completion. President Nyusi and RENAMO leaders 7 Oct reaffirmed resolution to complete disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration program for former RENAMO combatants by year’s end. In Zambezia province (centre), 800 guerrilla soldiers 12 Oct started demobilisation process.
Islamist insurgents continued to stretch international and govt forces across Cabo Delgado province, and in northern tip of neighbouring Nampula province.Insurgents pushed south into Nampula for first time since June. After crossing Lúrio river from Cabo Delgado into Nampula, Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) 2 Sept attacked Kutua village, Eráti district, and 6 Sept killed Italian nun in Chipene village, Memba district. President Nyusi next day said recent attacks in both districts had killed six people. Also in Memba, ISMP 8 Sept beheaded at least three people in Naheco village; unconfirmed reports 10 Sept said govt forces killed eight insurgents near Juma village. UN humanitarian office 9 Sept said 38,000 people had fled violence in Eráti and Memba districts since 30 Aug. Heading back north to Cabo Delgado’s southern districts, suspected ISMP insurgents 13 Sept beheaded five civilians in Ichibua village, Chiure district; 19 Sept beheaded three people near Pulo village and 24 Sept reportedly beheaded several others at Muissi and Nampipi villages, all Metuge district.Violence continued in Cabo Delgado’s central and northern districts. In Macomia district, govt forces claimed killing four insurgent commanders near Nkoe village on 7 Sept; subsequent ISMP attack at Nkoe 15 Sept left up to 16 soldiers killed. In Nangade district, ISMP next day ambushed govt troops and Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) forces during counter-insurgency operation near Chitama village, claiming 19 govt and SAMIM soldiers killed, while SAMIM 23 Sept confirmed one death and seven injuries in its ranks. In Muidumbe district, suspected ISMP 12 Sept reportedly killed three people in raid on Mapate village, and attack involving explosive device 15 Sept targeted govt forces in Xitaxi village, reportedly leading to intense exchange of fire. Nyusi 24 Sept said govt forces engaged in fighting with insurgents in Omba area of Mueda district. Police 28 Sept said 16 bodies of insurgents found in forests of Quissanga district, including some likely killed in clashes with govt forces.President Nyusi re-elected as ruling party leader. Nyusi elected 25 Sept to third five-year term as leader of Frelimo party during party congress on outskirts of capital Maputo.
In far north Cabo Delgado province, Islamist insurgents launched attacks in several districts, beheading civilians and targeting security and defence forces in likely attempt to resupply weapons. Insurgents 5 Aug raided security forces’ Namituco base, Meluco district; Islamic State Mozambique Province (ISMP) later claimed to have injured several soldiers and looted ammunition. ISMP 7 Aug claimed attack on security forces’ Namuembe base, Nangade district, reportedly injuring soldiers, seizing weapons and ammunition; unconfirmed reports said two members of police’s Rapid Intervention Unit (UIR) killed in assault. UIR detachment in Litingina town, also Nangade, 19 Aug reportedly withdrew under assault from insurgents, with armoured vehicle from Lesotho Defence Forces destroyed. Insurgent attacks also left several civilians dead, many of them beheaded. Notably, in Macomia district, insurgents 2 Aug beheaded three civilians in Litandacua village; ISMP later claimed attack. In Muidumbe district, insurgents 6-10 Aug raided several villages, killing at least four residents and forcing others to flee; 23-26 Aug beheaded four other civilians near Mandela, Mapate and Muambula villages, and shot dead militia member near Nova Família village. Multiple incidents recorded mid-Aug in Palma district, including 18 Aug attack on Nhica do Rovuma village, 30km from Palma town. In Mocímboa da Praia district, insurgents 18 Aug launched mortars near district capital. In Meluco, insurgents around 24-27 Aug reportedly killed at least three security forces personnel and five civilians in Minhanha village. In Ancuabe district in southern Cabo Delgado, series of insurgent attacks 29-31 Aug left several civilians killed, most of them beheaded, including near border with Chiure district. Rwandan Defence Forces 2 Aug said over 600 civilians held hostage by insurgents had been rescued since Rwandan, Southern African Development Community (SADC) Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) and Mozambican forces started counter-insurgency operations in Catupa forest of Macomia district in April. SADC 17 Aug renewed SAMIM mandate for 12 months.
Islamist insurgents attacked military and police targets in Cabo Delgado province in possible attempt to stock up on arms and other materiel following their offensive in province’s southern districts in June. After weeks of seemingly trying to avoid confrontation with military, Islamist insurgents throughout month launched several attacks on security and defence forces. Notably, insurgents 9 July attacked police Rapid Intervention Unit’s position in Pundanhar locality, Palma district, forcing officers to withdraw and leave weapons, ammunition and equipment behind; Islamic State (ISIS) 11 July claimed responsibility for raid, which could be the biggest on govt positions since Rwandan and Southern African Development Community (SADC) troops arrived in Cabo Delgado in 2021. Insurgents 13 July also clashed with security forces around Quinto Congresso village, Macomia district, reportedly seizing large quantity of arms and ammunition. Authorities however claimed major gain following late June establishment of new military base north of Macomia town: President Nyusi 15 July said govt forces, with support of Rwandan soldiers and SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM), had captured insurgent base in Macomia’s Catupa forest. Meanwhile, militants continued attacks on civilians in northern Cabo Delgado. In Macomia, insurgents 12 and 24 July launched attacks in or around Nkoe village, killing two farmers, injuring at least five people and burning down over 100 houses; 19 July attacked Litandacua village, clashed with govt and Rwandan forces, with unknown number dead. In Nangade district, insurgents 26 July killed at least three civilians and burnt down houses in Chitunda area; in response, govt and SAMIM forces same day ambushed insurgents, killing two. Further south in Meluco district, insurgents 2-10 July raided three villages, looting and burning down houses; ISIS claimed all attacks. In neighbouring Montepuez district, suspected Islamist militants 17 July attacked Nacaca artisanal mine, 12km north of Montepuez city, beheading three miners; and govt forces 21 July reportedly launched airstrikes on Islamist militants in Namanhumbir area in first known counter-insurgency operation in Montepuez. Southern Ancuabe district also remained under militant threat. Notably, two men were beheaded 13 July outside Muaja village; insurgents 19 July also attacked Mihecane village, with ISIS 22 July claiming five people beheaded.
Islamist insurgents advanced into Cabo Delgado province’s southern districts, threatening provincial capital Pemba as Islamic State made unprecedented number of claims. Insurgents throughout month moved southward into Cabo Delgado districts which had not seen any major attacks since insurgency started in Oct 2017. In Ancuabe district, insurgents 5 June attacked Nanduli village, with at least four people reported missing; Islamic State (ISIS) next day claimed attack. Insurgents continued to move south: two people beheaded 8 June on graphite mining site 60km from provincial capital Pemba, another civilian killed next day in Ntutupue village; up to seven people including two security officers killed 18-19 June in Nikuita and Macaia villages; and four more in Mihecani village 23-26 June. ISIS 13 June claimed Ntutupue attack. Violence in Ancuabe 5-19 June triggered displacement of over 20,000 people. Insurgency advanced further south into Chiure district, previously considered safe haven for refugees. Notably, ISIS 12-13 June claimed killing four civilians and burning down houses in Retene and Micolene villages. Attack also reported in Mecufi district’s Mancuaia village 14 June. Insurgents’ incursions into Cabo Delgado’s south sparked security concerns in Pemba, which serves as logistical hub for Southern African Development Community Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM). Security forces 12 June introduced checkpoints and military escorts along Metuge-Pemba road; local sources 13 June reported traffic restrictions across Chiure and Ancuabe districts; President Nyusi 16 June met with senior military, SAMIM and Rwandan officials to discuss further military operations. Neighbouring Nampula province, south of Cabo Delgado, experienced its first attack as combatants 17 June beheaded civilian in Lúrio village, Memba district. Insurgents continued to engage with security forces and target civilians in northern and central Cabo Delgado. Notably, in Macomia district, ISIS 7 June claimed raid on Chai village, reportedly kidnapping several children; clashes between insurgents and security forces reported around 9 June outside Quinto Congresso village and between Nkoe and Chai villages, with unknown number killed; attacks in Nkoe 21 and 23 June reportedly left four dead. Insurgents 25 June killed at least one civilian in ambush in Mocímboa da Praia district, and 28 June attacked Mandimba military outpost in Nangade district.
Sustained attacks across far north Cabo Delgado province showed continued struggle to contain Islamist insurgency; militants targeted food supplies as hunger precipitated surrenders. Islamist militants early May launched series of attacks in Nangade district: one person killed and three wounded 1 May in and around Litingina town; several people reportedly beheaded 3 May in Muhia village near Tanzanian border and several others captured 8 May in fields around Rovuma village; food raid reported 10 May in Nova Familia village. Amid violence, Nangade-Mueda road temporarily closed 1 May, leaving Nangade town cut off from supplies. In Palma district, insurgents 6 May attacked Olumbe village, notably targeting foodstuffs; unconfirmed reports said joint Rwandan and Mozambican forces killed 20 insurgents while three Mozambican soldiers were also killed. Small squads of insurgents 17 May reportedly launched food raids on Palma’s Quifuque island. Meanwhile, Islamic State (ISIS) 9 May claimed killing three Mozambican soldiers in 7 May raid on Quiterajo military base in Macomia district, for first time attributing attack to “Mozambique Province”. Violence from mid-May intensified in Macomia as militants allegedly tried to make their way to Minhanha zone of Meluco district. Local sources reported insurgents 20 May beheaded between two and six people near Nova Zambézia and Nkoe villages north of Macomia town; ISIS 23 May claimed attacks, said four Mozambican soldiers killed, next day said militants 21 May also killed three people in nearby Nguida village. In Meluco district, suspected militants 26 May ambushed health officials near Muaguide village, leaving one missing, and ISIS 26 and 29 May claimed attacks on Pitolha and Namituco villages. Dozens of insurgents throughout month reportedly surrendered to authorities amid lack of food, including around 70 in Nangade district 15-17 May and 40 in Macomia district 17 May; others reportedly surrendered in Ibo and Muidumbe districts. Hunger also prompted insurgents to release captives, including three men and two women who arrived in Nangade town 7 May. Amid minimal return of displaced people in Cabo Delgado, authorities 12 May reported 3,700 people displaced by violence in late 2021 have returned to their home villages in neighbouring Niassa province.
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.
Islamist militants continued to carry out attacks on several fronts in northern Cabo Delgado province, notably engaging in one of most significant clashes with security forces in recent months. Militants 15-17 March engaged in fierce fighting with security forces on Matemo island, Ibo district, reportedly leaving at least 17 dead on both sides; Islamic State (ISIS) social media channels later published images of several beheaded soldiers. Militants early March consolidated their presence around Litingina town in Nangade district, sparking fears that Nangade town itself may be vulnerable to attack. Notably, insurgents 3 March attacked Unidade village, killing unspecified number of people, and hours later moved to Litingina, with one source reporting three civilians killed and insurgents occupying town; next day reportedly beheaded three people in Chibau village, and 5 March raided Malamba village, killing up to seven people. In response, forces of Southern African Development Community, military and local militia 7 March launched ground assault with aerial support on insurgents’ base in Machava village, reportedly killing over 30. Militants 11 March however attacked Namuembe village, and 18 March beheaded two people in Litingina before clashing with police. In neighbouring Mueda district, suspected Islamist militants 20 and 24 March killed three people including two women in two villages. Violence in Macomia district showed no sign of abating: insurgents launched repeated assaults on military garrison in Nova Zambezia village, killing at least one soldier overnight 6-7 March, and five people including female militia fighter and one soldier 8 March; ISIS claimed both attacks; further fighting reported 24 March on northern edge of Macomia town. Amid food shortages, insurgents week of 21-27 March seemingly released around 200 hostages across Macomia, Muidumbe and Mocímboa da Praia districts. Reports of abuses continued to erode trust in govt forces: police or military officers 4 March reportedly shot dead young man in Macomia district. As part of major cabinet reshuffle, President Nyusi 3 March sacked PM Carlos Agostinho do Rosário; move allegedly aims to stem political damage caused by ongoing trial of 19 senior officials in $2bn corruption scandal ahead of ruling Frelimo party conference in Sept.
In far north, Islamist militant attacks continued along N380 corridor in Macomia district; insurgent and pro-govt operations also centred around Cabo Delgado province’s northern districts. Islamist militants 1 Feb attacked Matemo Island, Ibo district, killing three civilians before leaving next day following govt airstrike. Militants 5 Feb launched series of raids in southern Macomia, moving from south to north along N380 road that connects Macomia town to Pemba city: four civilians killed in ambush near Nacate village on Macomia-Quissanga border; one man killed and at least ten women and girls kidnapped in Rafique village; Bangala 2 village, 10km south of Macomia city, also under attack. Militants same day ambushed patrol reportedly made up of Mozambican, Rwandan and southern African regional bloc SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) soldiers near Macomia’s Nova Zambezia village; resulting firefight left five assailants and one Mozambican soldier dead. Islamic State Central Africa Province 25 Feb claimed militants killed several Mozambican troops in three Macomia villages 23 Feb. International Organization for Migration 8 Feb recorded 3,504 people displaced by violence in Meluco district since 2 Feb. Insurgent and pro-govt operations also took place in Cabo Delgado’s northern districts of Nangade and Palma. In Nangade, suspected militants 6 Feb attacked Nambedo village, reportedly killing one civilian and one local militia member and kidnapping six women; next day killed one civilian in Namuembe village, prompting firefight with local militia and vigilantes: seven insurgents, three local vigilantes and one militiaman reportedly killed. Local militia 9 Feb also killed six insurgents in ambush near Namuembe. Joint force made up of Rwandan military and police and Mozambican military personnel 7-8 Feb launched clearing operations in western Palma district; several insurgents reportedly killed or captured. Rwandan President Kagame subsequently said at least 80% of Rwandan forces’ area of responsibility in northern Mozambique cleared of insurgents. Columns of insurgents pushed out of their bases in western Palma 18 Feb arrived in Nangade district, immediately attacked two villages killing at least six civilians. Militants in following days moved across district and attacked several villages while SAMIM forces stationed in Nangade town reportedly failed to respond.
Islamist militants retained offensive capacity in Cabo Delgado province in far north, notably launching series of attacks in Meluco, Macomia and Nangade districts. Series of attacks, some claimed by Islamic State (ISIS), marked first sustained offensive in Meluco district since start of Cabo Delgado conflict, with a dozen incidents recorded in Jan. Notably, militants 2 and 4 Jan targeted two villages located on N380 road between Macomia and Pemba cities; 15 Jan struck Mitepo village, advancing toward district capital; and 27-28 Jan killed 15 people in Mitambo, Iba and Muaguide villages. Militants also struck villages located on N380 road in Macomia district: repeated raids on Nova Zambezia village killed a dozen people throughout month; militants 4 Jan attacked nearby Nova Vida village, and 6 Jan killed two in Nashi Bandi village. Simultaneous campaign in Meluco and Macomia showed insurgents’ capacity to bracket Macomia on both sides of major axis that connects city to both Mueda and Pemba. Violence also peaked in Nangade district in north-western Cabo Delgado, with attacks in eight villages leaving at least 20 civilians killed 7-23 Jan; notably, militants 15 and 23 Jan attacked Limualamuala village, less than 10km from Nangade town, killing nine civilians and prompting other to flee. Militant attack on Alberto Chipande (known locally as Nachipande) village in northern Mueda district 8 Jan killed two, including at least one local militia member; ISIS claimed attack. Rwandan and Mozambican forces 29 Jan killed two militants, including suspected leader of 2020 offensive on Mocímboa da Praia, Tanzanian national Tuahil Muhidim, in operation in Mocímboa da Praia district. Rwanda and Mozambique 10 Jan agreed to expand security forces co-operation against militants in Cabo Delgado, paving way to extension of Rwandan troops’ stay. Southern African Development Community heads of state 12 Jan agreed to extend Standby Force Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) deployment in Cabo Delgado, but gave no detail on envisaged timeframe; three to six-month period allegedly envisaged, contingent on available funding.
Militants continued to launch attacks in northern Cabo Delgado province, especially in Macomia district, and violence spread into neighbouring Niassa province and Tanzania. Southern African regional bloc SADC’s mission in Mozambique (SAMIM), along with Rwandan and Mozambican troops, continued their offensive against Islamist militants in Cabo Delgado, with several violent incidents recorded in Dec mainly in Macomia district. Notably, shootout between suspected Islamist militants and local pro-govt militia 6 Dec left four militants dead in Nkoé area; suspected militants 15 Dec beheaded pastor in Nova Zambezia village; pro-govt militia 27 Dec ambushed militants in Chiotoio village, killing five and capturing one. SAMIM claimed joint SAMIM and Mozambican forces 19-20 Dec killed 14 militants during operation in Chai area of Macomia; one South African and two Mozambican soldiers killed during operation. Under pressure in Cabo Delgado, militants dispersed westward into neighbouring Niassa province, with local authorities early Dec expressing concern militants could use province as “refuge”. Attacks and clashes in Niassa’s Mecula district reportedly prompted nearly 4,000 people to flee their villages in late Nov and in Dec. Notably, militants 8 Dec killed elderly woman and burnt down 80 homes in Nhati administrative post, Lichinga area, and same day shot and decapitated young man in Chimene area; around 22 Dec reportedly killed several people including special reserve inspector during attack on Naulala village. Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for several attacks in Niassa and Macomia in Dec in continuation of unprecedented raft of claims made since Nov. Police Chief Bernardino Rafael 12 Dec claimed defence and security forces had killed prominent combatant “Cassimo” in Mecula. Meanwhile, militants launched attacks into Tanzania, reportedly killing at least four civilians in Kiwengulo village in Tanzania’s Mtwara region 10 Dec; subsequent clash with Tanzanian Defence Force resulted in death of five militants (see also Tanzania). Concerns over gender-based violence aggravated by conflict dynamics surfaced: NGO Human Rights Watch 7 Dec said militants had abducted and enslaved over 600 woman and girls since 2018; UN refugee agency 20 Dec stressed conflict had “compounded” multiple forms of abuses including physical violence, abduction, sexual trafficking, and early and forced marriage.
Islamist militants clashed with govt and Southern African forces in far north; President Nyusi sacked defence and interior ministers in major govt reshuffle. Militants continued small-scale attacks in Macomia, Nangade, Mueda, Muidume and Palma districts of Cabo Delgado province and in Mecula district of neighbouring Niassa province. Notably, in Macomia, militants killed two and kidnapped others in 5º Congresso village 2 and 10 Nov, and killed at least three in Nanjaba village 13 Nov; in Mueda, Islamic State (ISIS) claimed militants 16-17 Nov killed four soldiers; in Niassa, militants 25-27 Nov attacked villages in Mecula district, reportedly targeting police station and killing one police officer. Pro-govt militia, national army and forces of Southern African regional bloc SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) riposted throughout month: militia 3 Nov killed two militants in Nagulue village (Macomia district); govt and SAMIM forces 7 Nov killed nine combatants at Ntuleni village in Olumbe area (Palma district), and SAMIM 9 Nov killed another four near Mandimba village (Nangade district). In Mueda district, SAMIM 12-13 Nov reportedly killed over two dozen insurgents following attacks on villages as insurgents attempted to retreat into Tanzania; according to media reports, at least 12 insurgents also killed in clashes with national army and SAMIM in Ninga area 19 Nov. Pro-govt forces and ISIS released statements throughout Nov shedding light on fighting in previous months. Notably, SAMIM 11 Nov claimed to have destroyed three insurgent bases in Macomia district since Aug, and Rwandan ambassador to Mozambique 8 Nov alleged that since deploying troops in July Rwandan forces had killed over 100 militants and released over 350 hostages, many of whom provided information on camps and lack of basic supplies, raising prospect of further supply raids by insurgents. ISIS 18-19 Nov claimed series of attacks since July, some previously undocumented. In alleged attempt to strengthen his position ahead of ruling party congress scheduled for 2022, President Nyusi week of 8 Nov sacked Defence Minister Jaime Neto and Interior Minister Amade Miquidade. EU training mission launched 3 Nov and Brussels 19 Nov allocated further €40mn to support Mozambique’s defence sector.
Amid sustained counter-insurgency offensive, Islamist militants continued attacks in far north; govt forces killed leader of armed dissident Renamo faction. In far north Cabo Delgado province, heavy fighting between govt forces and militants reported 1 Oct in Muidumbe district; no casualty estimates available. In Mocìmboa da Praìa district, pro-govt forces 6 Oct reportedly killed two militants in Limala village, including individual responsible for massacre of 52 civilians in Muidumbe district in 2020. Southern African regional bloc SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) 3 Oct announced death of local militant leader Awadhi Ndanjile in Nangade district late Sept. SAMIM throughout month staged offensives notably in Quissanga district, freeing 47 civilians from militant captivity in Bilibiza and Namuluco villages 13 Oct and capturing five insurgents near Cagemba village 15 Oct; 26 Oct captured seven militants at Quiterajo administrative post in Macomia district. SADC 5 Oct extended SAMIM’s mandate for another 90 days. Despite offensive, Islamist militants continued attacks, killing three civilians and abducting another in Quitico village, Palma district, 1 Oct, and reportedly kidnapping 12 women and two children in Macomia, Meluco and Mueda districts next day. Militants 21 Oct attacked Muidumbe district capital Namacande, and 24 Oct killed three, including two pro-govt militiamen, in Chitama village, Nangade district. Security forces faced new accusations of arbitrary detention and other abuses against civilians. Notably, in Mocìmboa da Praìa, govt forces 6-8 Oct intercepted at least seven boats near Mecungo island, detained passengers and reportedly demanded ransom payment to allow boats to continue their journey; 10 Oct arbitrarily arrested 60 civilians off coast of Matemo island, Ibo district, claimed they were smuggling supplies to Islamist militants; and 26 Oct allegedly killed at least ten civilians off coast of Macomia district. Pro-govt militia 7 Oct captured and executed four young men they accused of being militants in Muatide village, Muidumbe district. Meanwhile in Sofala province’s Cheringoma district (centre), govt forces 11 Oct killed Mariano Nhongo, leader of Renamo Military Junta (JMR), armed dissident faction of Renamo party; Renamo Sec Gen André Magibire next day said party would welcome JMR members who lay down weapons.
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 African 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.
Islamist militants faced major setback as joint Mozambican and Rwandan forces regained control of strategic Mocìmboa da Praia town and other key locations. In far north Cabo Delgado province, joint Mozambican and Rwandan forces early Aug launched large-scale offensive in Mocìmboa da Praia district, with intense fighting reported notably in and around Awasse and Mocìmboa da Praia towns 2-4 Aug. Mozambican and Rwandan defence ministries 8 Aug announced joint forces had regained full control of Mocìmboa da Praia town, under militant control since Aug 2020 and site of militants’ first attack in Cabo Delgado in Oct 2017. In following days, joint forces reopened Mocìmboa da Praia-Awasse road and pursued militants into thick forests around Mbau village, 50km south west of Mocìmboa da Praia, taking control of Mbau 20 Aug; 11 militants reportedly killed and some 100 hostages, mainly women and children, released. During their flight from Mocìmboa da Praia, Islamist militants 4-8 Aug reportedly attacked Mandimba, Chacamba, Nune and Quissama villages in neighbouring Nangade district; no casualty report available. Militants 16-20 Aug clashed with govt forces in Nangade district, notably in Litingina and Samora Machel villages; one civilian reportedly killed. In Macomia district, govt forces 10 Aug mistakenly killed two civilians in Mucojo area; militants 24 Aug killed ten fishermen in same area. In Muidumbe district, joint forces 27 Aug reportedly dislodged militants from their base near district capital Namacunde. U.S. 6 Aug put Bonomade Machude Omar, alleged “senior commander and lead coordinator” of Islamic State in Cabo Delgado province, on terrorist list. Southern Africa’s regional bloc SADC Standby Force in Mozambique formally launched 9 Aug; force will initially consist of 738 soldiers and 19 civilian experts in Cabo Delgado, far from 3,000 troops recommended by SADC technical mission in April. Meanwhile, some 900 former armed opposition Renamo forces 10 Aug claimed they had not received allowances – mandated under Disarmament, Demobilisation and Reintegration process – for six months; Renamo opposition party leader Ossufo Momade 16 Aug called on govt and international partners to resolve situation. Nine high-ranking officers of Renamo Military Junta, Renamo armed dissident faction, demobilised 17 Aug in Sofala province (centre).
Islamic State (ISIS) claimed several attacks in far north amid Rwandan offensives and arrival of Southern Africa regional forces to counter militants. In far northern Cabo Delgado province, ISIS claimed several attacks for first time since siege of Palma town in March. Notably, ISIS 13 July claimed attack on Diaca town, Mocímboa da Praia district, which likely took place 2 July, said militants had repelled govt forces’ advance on strategic Mueda-Mocímboa da Praia road; same day claimed killing soldier in Namacande district capital Muidumbe 12 July; 15 July said combatants had killed four civilians in Ncumbi village, Palma district, and clashed with govt forces on Palma-Mocímboa da Praia road in recent days; 29 July claimed six armed encounters with govt forces and self-defence militias in several districts 17-28 July, said several militia members killed. Suspected Islamist militants 2 and 18 July killed 13, mostly civilians, in Namande and Saba-Saba villages, both Muidumbe district; 15 July killed six civilians in Macomia district; and 17 July killed another five in Mitope village, Mocímboa da Praia district. In Nangade district, govt forces 13 July reportedly captured and executed 15 suspected militants attempting to cross into neighbouring Tanzania. Rwanda 9 July started deployment of 1,000-strong joint army and police force to Cabo Delgado as part of bilateral agreement. Rwandan forces 20 July clashed with militants in Quionga village, Palma district; 23 July killed 26 militants in Mandela village, Muidumbe district; 24-25 July reportedly killed seven militants in Awasse town, Mocímboa da Praia district. Meanwhile, South African Special Forces 19 July arrived in Cabo Delgado’s capital Pemba to pave way for deployment of Southern Africa regional block (SADC) Standby Force; South Africa’s President Ramaphosa 23 July confirmed his country will send “up to” 1,495 troops as part of regional force. Disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration process of former armed opposition movement Renamo forces continued, with 50 per cent threshold reached following demobilisation of 360 fighters in Tete province 11 July.
Islamist militants continued to resist govt forces and launch deadly attacks against civilians in far north. In far north Cabo Delgado province, govt forces early June launched offensive against Islamist militants in Macomia district, with clashes reported near Messalo river, north of Quiterajo administrative post 1 June, and near Pangane village and south of Nacutuco village 4 June; number of casualties unknown. Also in Macomia, militants 4 and 19 June reportedly killed 14 civilians in Naunde and Novo Cabo Delgado villages; residents of Litamanda village accused govt forces of having killed at least seven civilians 12 June before beheading them to pin blame on militants. In Muidumbe district, govt forces 4 June reportedly foiled attempted Islamist militants’ raid on district capital Namacande. In Palma district, local vigilante group 12 June killed three Islamist militants; in retaliation, militants next day killed four people, including two minors in district capital Palma; govt forces 17 June reportedly raided Quitunda resettlement village in search of militants. Military 30 June said troops had killed around 150 militants and captured 39 others during encounters in Palma district 21-23 June. Meanwhile, UN refugee agency 11 June said some 70,000 people had fled Palma town since 24 March, bringing total number of displaced persons in Cabo Delgado to nearly 800,000; also said neighbouring Tanzania had forcibly returned 9,600 displaced persons to Cabo Delgado since Jan, including some 900 between 7 and 9 June. Southern Africa’s regional bloc SADC 23 June held Extraordinary Summit of Heads of State and Govt in Maputo and approved mandate for SADC’s Standby Force to be deployed in Cabo Delgado. Rwanda 24 June said that it will be deploying troops to Cabo Delgado. Renamo opposition party leader Ossufo Momade 13 June accused govt of violating peace agreement signed in 2019 by failing to integrate demobilised Renamo combatants into regular forces.
Islamist insurgents continued to launch deadly attacks in far north despite ongoing counter-insurgency efforts. In far north Cabo Delgado province, insurgents targeted internally displaced persons fleeing violence by boat, reportedly killing at least seven and kidnapping at least 40 off the coast of Macomia district 3 May. In Nangade district, local militiamen 7 May clashed with insurgents in and around Ngalonga village, killing at least five, and 22 May killed five more insurgents in Chacamba village. In Palma district, insurgents 10 May killed three civilians and took others hostage in Olumbe village; armed forces 22-23 May reportedly thwarted insurgents’ attempt to capture Olumbe. Govt forces 21 May clashed with insurgents in and around strategic town of Diaca, Mocimboa da Praia district, allegedly driving them out of locality; 22-23 May reportedly took control of Muidumbe district capital Namacande, which had been under insurgents’ control since late 2020. NGO Amnesty International 13 May said rescue operation conducted by South African private military company Dyck Advisory Group (DAG) during siege of Palma town in March was marred by racial discrimination, with white contractors evacuated ahead of black locals; DAG same day denied allegations. Southern Africa regional bloc SADC 27 May held extraordinary double troika summit to discuss deployment of regional force in Cabo Delgado but deferred decision to deploy force to next meeting scheduled for 20 June. Meanwhile, André Matsangaíssa Júnior, former senior member of Renamo Military Junta (JMR), armed dissident faction of opposition Renamo party, 3 May said JMR leader Mariano Nhongo would soon surrender; three JMR members mid-May defected in Manica province, claimed JMR forces in stronghold of Gorongosa, Sofala province, much reduced with only seven people left in their ranks. Nyusi 16 May said disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of former armed opposition movement Renamo forces would not be concluded by Aug as expected due to lack of funds.
Govt forces claimed they had regained Cabo Delgado’s Palma town from Islamist insurgents. In far north Cabo Delgado province, govt forces supported by South African private military company early April clashed with insurgents in and around Palma district capital, under insurgent control since late March. Military 4 April said town was now “safe” after armed forces cleared last neighbourhood. Authorities mid-April said 41 insurgents and dozens of civilians, including up to 12 foreigners, killed since attack started 24 March, amid widespread destruction and looting of nearly $1mn from Palma banks, while International Organization for Migration late April said violence in Palma had displaced over 30,000 people. Renewed clashes in and around Palma town 20-23 April left at least nine civilians dead. Also in Palma district, insurgents 2 April launched attack outside site of French oil and gas company Total liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on Afungi peninsula, clashed with govt forces; attack came amid Total’s full staff withdrawal from Afungi; Total 26 April said it was declaring “force majeure” allowing it to suspend LNG project without fulfilling contractual obligations. In Macomia district near border with Muidumbe district, insurgents 8 April looted Novo Cabo Delgado village, clashed with local militia; three insurgents and one militia member killed. Southern Africa regional bloc SADC extraordinary double troika summit of heads of state and govt 8 April agreed to send technical mission to Cabo Delgado to draw up plan for security support package; mission deployed 15-21 April reportedly recommended to send 3,000-strong regional force to far north; extraordinary troika summit of SADC Organ, due to take place on 29 April to discuss proposal, postponed sine die. Meanwhile, leader of Renamo Military Junta (JMR), armed dissident faction of opposition Renamo party, 8 April threatened to make governance of six northern and central provinces “impossible” if govt continued to ignore JMR’s demands for reintegration of fighters. General Commander of police force Bernadino Rafael 14 April ordered police to “relentlessly and professionally” pursue JMR members who did not join demobilisation process.