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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.
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