Tracking Conflict Worldwide

CrisisWatch is our global conflict tracker, an early warning tool designed to help decision-makers prevent deadly violence by keeping them up-to-date with developments in over 70 conflicts and crises, identifying trends and alerting them to risks of escalation and opportunities to advance peace. Entries dating back to 2003 provide easily searchable conflict histories.

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August 2023



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.

July 2023



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.

June 2023



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.

May 2023



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.

April 2023



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.

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