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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.
Islamist insurgents launched major attack on strategic port town of Palma in far north, leaving scores dead and triggering mass exodus as govt forces struggled to respond. Hours after French oil and gas company Total announced it was resuming full operations at Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) project site in Palma district, Cabo Delgado province, Islamist insurgents 24 March launched large-scale assault on district capital Palma. In following days, coordinated attacks in and around Palma reportedly killed scores of civilians including for first time foreigners, and displaced thousands. Reports of major killings started to emerge by month’s end. Notably, assault on Amarula hotel prompted dozens, including foreigners, to flee in 17-vehicle convoy; insurgents 26 March ambushed convoy, reportedly leaving unknown number dead and at least 50 missing. Meanwhile, security forces moved to flush insurgents out of Palma, with govt 25 March saying troops were “pursing the enemy’s movement” and “working tirelessly to restore security” in Palma. Islamic State 29 March claimed responsibility, said its combatants had seized town and killed 55 including “western citizens”. In Nangade district, Islamist insurgents 1-3 March set roadblocks between district capital Nangade and garrison town of Mueda pushing west near Muiha village, and killed at least three soldiers and four civilians in several attacks in area; in response, govt forces 6 March raided insurgent encampment at Nkonga village, and next day reportedly reopened Nangade-Mueda road. In Macomia district, insurgents 24 March struck administrative posts of Mucojo and Quiterajo, taking unknown number hostage and killing others. NGO Amnesty International 2 March accused insurgents, govt and South African private military company Dyck Advisory Group (DAG) of violations of international humanitarian law, including war crimes, in Cabo Delgado in 2020. U.S State Department 10 March designated Cabo Delgado insurgents as foreign terrorist organisation linked to Islamic State and Tanzanian national Abu Yasir Hassan as leader. President Nyusi 12 March appointed Joaquim Rivas Mangrasse as armed forces chief of staff. Mariano Nhongo, leader of Renamo Military Junta (armed dissident faction of opposition Renamo party) 11 March ruled out amnesty as first step toward negotiations with govt.
Govt forces launched large-scale offensive against Islamist insurgents in far north Cabo Delgado province, and authorities announced death of newly-appointed armed forces chief of staff. Govt forces and their allies 5 Feb launched offensive in Muidumbe and Mocimboa da Praia districts in bid to retake port town and district capital Mocimboa da Praia, which has been under insurgents’ control since Aug 2020. Notably, armed forces 8-11 Feb conducted helicopter strikes on insurgent positions along Messalo River, which marks border between Muidumbe and Mocimboa da Praia, death toll unknown. Insurgents mid-month started to resist govt’s offensive, notably attacking security forces in Diaca and Roma villages, Mocimboa da Praia, 15-16 Feb, and wounding soldier in raid on armed forces base in Xitaxi locality, Muidumbe, 16 Feb. In Palma district, aid convoys 2 and 6 Feb reached district capital Palma amid reports of food shortages; military escorted convoys along Nangade-Palma axis, which insurgents have recently targeted in attempt to cut off Palma from supply routes. Also in Palma, insurgents 19 Feb attacked administrative post of Quionga on border with Tanzania, killing four, and 26 Feb killed six in nearby Quirinde village. In Nangade district, insurgents 22-25 Feb killed nine civilians in three villages; govt forces 25 Feb pursued insurgents near Luneque village, killing six. NGO Médecins sans Frontières early Feb returned to Macomia district after eight-month suspension of its activities due to insecurity. President Nyusi 3 Feb offered amnesty to Islamist insurgents, promising there will be no retaliation against those who surrender. Govt 8 Feb announced death of armed forces chief of staff, General Eugenio Mussa, less than three weeks after his appointment; Mussa reportedly died of COVID-19. Govt 12 Feb said Southern African Development Community extraordinary summit on Cabo Delgado insurgency, cancelled in Jan due to COVID-19, will take place in “May or June”. Authorities 16 Feb expelled British journalist Tom Bowker after six years reporting on Mozambique; movefollows late-Jan withdrawal of his accreditation. Meanwhile,Paulo Filipe Nguirande,chief of staff of Renamo Military Junta, armed dissident faction of opposition Renamo party, 12 Feb demobilised in Gorongosa district, Sofala province (centre).
Islamist insurgents targeted liquefied natural gas (LNG) project site in far north and President Nyusi replaced armed forces chief of staff. In far north Cabo Delgado province, Islamist insurgents 1 Jan clashed with security forces in Palma district’s Quitunda village, adjacent to French oil and gas company Total’s fenced-off LNG project site. Oil company Total 4 Jan confirmed suspension of field operations due to security situation and evacuation of most personnel. Insurgents 24 Jan attacked Olumbe village, located few kilometres from LNG site, for second time in just over a week; incident led to intense fighting which reportedly involved company and govt’s Joint Task Force protecting LNG project. In Ibo district, insurgents 5 Jan attacked Quirimba Island, reportedly killing four civilians. In Macomia district, insurgents 7 Jan kidnapped 13 civilians, and later killed at least seven of them in Olumboa village; 22 Jan reportedly attacked Ingoane and Pangane villages, leaving several civilians dead. In Nangade district, insurgents 16-19 Jan killed at least nine and abducted unknown number of civilians in Pundanhar area; 21-22 Jan killed two police officers and four civilians in Mandimba and Namiune villages. In Mocimboa da Praia district, clashes between Islamist insurgents and self-defence militia late Jan reportedly left at least 27 insurgents and three militiamen dead in Panjele village. Nyusi 14 Jan promoted General Eugenio Mussa to armed forces chief of staff, replacing Lázaro Menete; Mussa late 2020 had been appointed commander of Northern Operational Command Post in garrison town of Mueda, headquarters of govt’s campaign against insurgents in Cabo Delgado and previously under police control. Following cross-border attacks into Tanzania in recent months, Nyusi and Tanzanian President Magufuli 11 Jan agreed to resume joint commission on defence and security; Southern African Development Community summit on security situation in Cabo Delgado, scheduled for mid-Jan, indefinitely postponed due to COVID-19 pandemic. Meanwhile in centre, suspected members of Renamo Military Junta (JMR), dissident faction of opposition party Renamo, 9 Jan attacked truck convoy in Zove area, Sofala province, killing civilian; attack took place despite unilateral ceasefire announced in Dec by JMR leader Mariano Nhongo.
Islamist insurgents moved closer to liquefied natural gas (LNG) site in far north, forcing international oil company to evacuate staff. In far north Cabo Delgado province, Islamist insurgents increasingly targeted strategic towns, moving toward Afungi peninsula where LNG project is located. In Palma district, Islamist insurgents 7 Dec attacked Mute town, 20km from LNG site, and clashed with security forces, reportedly killing soldier; insurgents next day moved to Ngueo town, 2km north of Mute, forcing unknown number of civilians to flee to Palma town; 29 Dec killed five in Olumbe and Monjane villages few kilometres away from LNG site, and two soldiers in ambush on Monjane-Patacua axis on edge of Afungi peninsula. Following attacks, French oil and gas company Total late Dec started to evacuate staff from LNG facility. In neighbouring Nangade district, insurgents 8 Dec ambushed vehicle near Pundanhar town on Palma-Nangade axis, killing civilian, kidnapping two others and temporarily closing route to Palma; 12 Dec killed at least 14 civilians in several villages. In Macomia district, insurgents 10 Dec kidnapped unspecified number of fishermen in Mucojo town, released them few days later; next day killed at least four in Chai area. Southern African Development Community (SADC) Defence and Security Troika 14 Dec met with President Nyusi and Tanzania’s President Magufuli in capital Maputo to discuss security situation in Cabo Delgado; extraordinary summit of SADC heads of state and govt scheduled for 21 Jan. Meanwhile, number two of opposition Renamo party’s armed dissident faction Renamo Military Junta (JMR), Joao Machava, 6 Dec demobilised in Mabote district, Inhambane province (south). JMR leader Mariano Nhongo 11 Dec accused security forces of kidnapping six of his family members in past few days in Gondola district, Manica province (west); 23 Dec announced unilateral ceasefire, promised to negotiate with govt. Elsewhere in Manica province, armed individuals dressed in police uniforms 13 Dec kidnapped former Renamo party MP Sofrimento Matequenha from his home in provincial capital Chimoio; police same day denied abduction; Matequenha’s body found 24 Dec in Pindanganga village, 60km north east of Chimoio.
Islamist militants staged large-scale offensive in far north, seizing second district capital since Aug and leaving scores dead; armed dissident faction of opposition Renamo party continued violent attacks in centre. In Cabo Delgado province in far north, Islamist insurgents late Oct to mid-Nov staged offensive in Muidumbe district, capturing district capital Namacande and reportedly killing at least 50 and possibly hundreds more in Muatide area. Police Commander Bernardino Rafael 19 Nov said security forces had retaken control of Namacande, but insurgents reportedly returned to town by month’s end, clashing with security forces 27 Nov. In following days, fighting moved north east toward garrison town of Mueda, with insurgents 29 Nov killing 18 soldiers in Ntushi locality. More than 45,000 fled Muidumbe district 28 Oct-25 Nov. In Palma district, insurgents 2 Nov launched attack on Pundanhar town, kidnapping five civilians; in response, security forces next day reportedly killed at least 33 insurgents. In Macomia district, insurgents 5-6 Nov attacked Nanjaba and Napala villages, killing five civilians and kidnapping six others. Insurgents late Nov captured sailboats off coast of Palma and Mocímboa da Praia districts, marking first instances of sea piracy by insurgents. Mozambique and Tanzania 20 Nov signed agreement to launch joint operations against insurgents and share intelligence after violence spilled over into Tanzania in Oct. Southern Africa regional bloc SADC’s Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation 27 Nov called for “comprehensive regional response” and urgent support to Mozambique. In centre, suspected members of Renamo Military Junta (JMR), dissident faction of opposition party Renamo, 3 Nov attacked vehicle in area between Gorongosa and Nhamatanda districts in Sofala province, injuring two civilians; Junta leader Mariano Nhongo same day denied responsibility. President Nyusi – whose unilateral ceasefire in Oct failed to kickstart peace talks with JMR – 18 Nov said dissidents had carried out two attacks in Manica province’s Sussundenga district, leaving three civilians injured; same day said “there is no interest [from JMR] to engage in dialogue” and vowed to “take care” of group. Further JMR attack in Sussundenga 25-26 Nov left at least two injured.
Islamist militants staged deadly attacks in far north, albeit at lower intensity, and across border in Tanzania; President Nyusi’s unilateral, week-long ceasefire with dissident Renamo armed faction failed to kickstart peace talks. In Cabo Delgado province in far north, Islamist insurgents late Sept to mid-Oct killed at least 30 civilians and kidnapped 62 others in several villages in Macomia district. Several attacks also reported throughout month in Quissanga, Palma and Muidumbe districts. Some 300 insurgents 14 Oct crossed border into Tanzania and reportedly killed at least 22, including three Tanzanian security forces personnel; Islamic State (ISIS) next day claimed responsibility, first time ISIS claims direct attack on Tanzanian soil (see Tanzania). Military 21 Oct reportedly killed over 30 insurgents and several civilian hostages in counter-insurgency operation on Matemo island, Ibo district. Police Commander Bernardino Rafael 29 Oct said security forces had killed 108 insurgents in attacks on terrorist “encampments” in Cabo Delgado over three-day period. In centre, suspected members of Renamo Military Junta, dissident faction of opposition party Renamo, 6 Oct attacked vehicles on Muxunguè-Mutindir road in Sofala province, injuring five. Nyusi 24 Oct announced unilateral, week-long ceasefire in Sofala and Manica provinces in attempt to kickstart peace talks with dissidents; Renamo Military Junta leader Mariano Nhongo two days later said he was willing to negotiate with Nyusi but not with Renamo leader Ossufo Momade; Nhongo 31 Oct said attempt to start talks had failed, denounced ceasefire violations and harassment of his combatants by govt forces. Demobilisation and disarmament of Renamo forces continued, with 173 former combatants demobilised 12 Oct. In response to govt’s Sept request for assistance to tackle Cabo Delgado insurgency, EU 9 Oct announced training program, logistical support and medical services for Mozambican forces.
Amid counter-insurgency operations, deadly attacks by Islamist militants persisted in far north, while dissidents continued to target civilians in centre. In far northern Cabo Delgado province, Islamist militants retained control of port town and district capital Mocímboa da Praia and continued to launch attacks across province leaving scores of civilians dead. Islamic State (ISIS) 5 Sept claimed to have fended off joint Mozambican-Tanzanian armed force attack on Mocímboa da Praia, killing 20 Tanzanian soldiers, which Tanzania denied. Elsewhere in Mocímboa da Praia district, security forces 5 Sept reportedly regained control of Awasse town and 14 Sept repelled insurgents near Diaca village, killing at least five. In Palma district, insurgents 12 Sept killed at least 24 civilians near Pundanhar village and 24 Sept killed up to five soldiers in Naliendele village; security forces 23 Sept allegedly killed 19 militants in Pundanhar village. In Macomia district, insurgents 22 Sept killed five civilians near Novo Cabo Delgado locality, and 24 Sept killed at least eight others in Bilibiza village. NGO Amnesty International 9 Sept called on govt to launch investigation into “shocking violence” against detainees in far north, including dismemberment, torture, and attempted beheading of alleged militants; said videos depicting atrocities showed perpetrators wearing uniforms of Mozambique Armed Defense Forces and Mozambique Rapid Intervention Police. Govt in following days repeatedly denied allegations and denounced “disinformation” campaign by insurgents. European Parliament 17 Sept condemned use of “disproportionate violence” by security forces, called for impartial investigation into “grave violations”. Suspected members of Renamo Military Junta, dissident faction of opposition party Renamo, continued to launch attacks on transport routes in centre, notably killing two civilians at border between Nhamatanda and Chibabava districts in Sofala province 20 Sept and two others in Sussundenga district, Manica province 27 Sept. Demobilisation and disarmament of Renamo forces continued, with 140 female former combatants reportedly demobilised 5 Sept. Unidentified assailants 13 Sept assaulted journalists Luciano da Conceicao in Maxixe town, Inhambane province (south), and Leonardo Gimo in provincial capital of Nampula (north).
Islamist militants seized major port town in far north after intense fighting. In Cabo Delgado province in far north, Islamist militants 5-11 Aug launched series of coordinated attacks in and around port town and district capital of Mocímboa da Praia in third such offensive since March, forcing security forces to withdraw and seizing town 11 Aug. Offensive left dozens dead on both sides: Islamic State (ISIS) said twin attacks against two army barracks in Mocímboa da Praia city 6 Aug left some 50 soldiers dead or injured; govt same day said it had repelled both attacks, killing 16 militants; insurgents 10 Aug killed at least 55 soldiers in ambush in Awasse area near Mocímboa da Praia city. Elsewhere in Mocímboa da Praia district, suspected militants late Aug beheaded seven and kidnapped several others on Nhonge island. In neighbouring Macomia district, suspected Islamist militants 8 Aug killed five civilians in Litamanda village. Security forces continued to face accusations of excessive use of force and unlawful killings; in one incident on 13 Aug, they reportedly sank boat carrying displaced persons from Nkomangano village to Nhongue island, killing 40. Regional bloc Southern African Development Community 17 Aug committed to providing support to Mozambique against jihadist insurgency in Cabo Delgado. Govt and French oil and gas company Total 24 Aug reached agreement over security of latter’s natural gas projects in Cabo Delgado. Suspected members of Renamo Military Junta, dissident faction of opposition party Renamo, 30 Aug attacked civilian bus on Muxunguè-Rio Save axis in Sofala province in centre; no casualties reported. Unidentified assailants 23 Aug threw Molotov cocktails at offices of two local independent newspapers in capital Maputo.
Amid counter-insurgency operations and allegations of extrajudicial killings, Islamist militants launched deadly attacks and stepped up kidnappings in far north. In Cabo Delgado province in far north, Islamist militants killed scores of civilians throughout month, including at least twenty in raid on Mungue village on border between Mocimboa da Praia and Muidumbe districts 15 July, and nine in attacks in Macomia and Mocimboa da Praia district 28-30 July. Numerous kidnappings were reported in July, including several truckloads of women taken by insurgents during occupation of Mocimboa da Praia town 27 June-3 July. Islamic State (ISIS) 3 July threatened to attack natural gas projects, same day warned it would target South Africa should it intervene to support Mozambican army in Cabo Delgado. Meanwhile, security forces 1 July launched raid on insurgent base near Ntessa village, Macomia district, allegedly killing over 100 militants. Reports of extrajudicial killings persisted. Security forces 7 July reportedly killed four civilians suspected of supporting insurgents in Mocimboa da Praia town. Demobilisation and disarmament of Renamo forces continued; ten former Renamo fighters 6 July enrolled with police in Pemba, capital of Cabo Delgado province; UN Special Envoy for Mozambique Mirko Manzoni 16 July said Renamo base in Muxungue, Sofala province in centre, had been dismantled previous day and over 500 former Renamo fighters demobilised since June, reportedly including eleven members of Renamo dissident faction which calls itself Renamo Military Junta. Trial of six individuals accused of supporting Renamo Military Junta, including former Renamo MP Sandura Ambrosio, started 10 July in Dondo district, Sofala province. Police 23 July killed five Renamo Military Junta fighters in Sussundenga district, Manica province in west.
Jihadist violence continued in far north, while demobilisation of troops from former rebel group, now opposition party Renamo, resumed in centre amid continued tensions between govt and armed dissident faction of Renamo. In Cabo Delgado province in far north, suspected Islamist militants launched at least 24 attacks against civilians and security forces throughout month, killing at least 54 civilians. Notably, in Macomia district, militants killed 17 civilians 9 June, and 15 others next three days. In Mocimboa da Praia district, insurgents killed four civilians in Malinde village 14 June and three others in Chimbanga village 17 June. Several attacks also reported in Meluco and Quissanga districts. Security forces along with foreign private security contractors continued counter-insurgency operations, notably driving militants out of Narere village, Mocimboa da Praia district 9 June; security forces killed at least 24 insurgents in operations that day, and allegedly executed another 13 after capturing them. Security forces launched counter-offensive after Islamic State (ISIS) 27 June attacked Mocimboa da Praia town, ten soldiers and at least seven assailants reportedly killed in clashes. Demobilisation and disarmament of Renamo forces resumed 4 June. UN Special Envoy for Mozambique Mirko Manzoni 13 June announced first base had been dismantled in Dondo district, Sofala province in centre, ending months-long hiatus as Aug deadline to dismantle all Renamo bases nears. Mariano Nhongo, leader of Renamo dissident faction which calls itself Renamo Military Junta, immediately declared resumption of process “null and void”; Manzoni 5 June said he was willing to meet with Nhongo to negotiate peace deal, 19 June said attempts to negotiate had failed. Suspected Renamo Military Junta 28 June attacked civilian bus near Inchope locality, Manica province, killing 11-year-old boy. Court in Gaza province 18 June sentenced six police officers to between three and 24 years in prison for involvement in killing of prominent rights activist and election observer Anastacio Matavele before Oct 2019 presidential election.
Jihadist violence persisted in rural areas in far north, President Nyusi sought regional support against insurgency, and armed dissident faction of Renamo continued to attack civilians in centre. Suspected jihadists launched dozens of attacks in Cabo Delgado province in far north. Notably, Islamist militants 2 May reportedly killed 34 civilians in two villages in Quissanga district; 11 and 16 May allegedly killed fifteen civilians in Miangalewa village, Muidumbe district. Security forces 13 May killed 42 jihadists on Chinda-Mbau axis in Mocimboa da Praia district, next day repelled attack in Quissanga district, killing eight jihadists. Al-Qaeda 22 May for first time claimed attack in Mocimboa da Praia district. Militants flying Islamic State (ISIS) flag 28 May occupied Macomia town; govt 31 May said security forces killed 79 Islamist militants, including two senior leaders, in counter-offensive to retake Macomia. Nyusi and regional bloc Southern African Development Community (SADC) troika including Botswana, Zambia and Zimbabwe 19 May met in Zimbabwean capital Harare to discuss security situation in Mozambique; in final communiqué, parties urged SADC member states to lend support to Mozambique against jihadist insurgency in Cabo Delgado, reportedly prompting talks between South Africa and Mozambique on possible South African assistance. Renamo dissident faction, which calls itself Renamo Military Junta, continued to launch attacks on transport routes in Sofala province in centre, killing one civilian in Nhamatanda district 17 May. Renamo Military Junta leader Mariano Nhongo 29 May claimed security forces had recently abducted several people in Nhamatanda, Sofala province, and Gondola, Manica province, on suspicion of supporting group. Trial of seven police and one civilian accused of killing prominent election observer Anastacio Matavele in Oct, ahead of presidential election, started 12 May in southern city of Xai-Xai. Nyusi 28 May extended COVID-19 state of emergency until 30 June.
Jihadist violence continued to spread in far north, while govt and former rebel group, now opposition party Renamo, agreed to resume demobilisation of Renamo troops, and armed dissident faction of Renamo continued attacks in centre. Attacks by suspected jihadists continued unabated in several districts of Cabo Delgado province in far north. Notably, Islamist militants 8 April killed 52 civilians in Xitaxi village, Muidumbe district. Security forces 7 April drove back militants in Muidumbe town, killing 39, and 10 April repelled jihadist attack on Quirimba island, leaving 59 militants dead; five civilians also killed in fighting and twenty schoolchildren reportedly kidnapped. Suspected jihadists 17 April killed six civilians in Machova Koka village, Macomia district, and 22 April beheaded four others in Imbada village, Meluco district. Govt 15 April denied militants controlled any areas of Cabo Delgado province; 23 April said for first time insurgency was “external aggression” by Islamic State (ISIS). President Nyusi and Ossufo Momade, leader of former rebel group, now opposition party Renamo, 16 April agreed demobilisation and disarmament of Renamo forces should resume. Renamo 23 April accused security forces of killing fourteen civilians in Cabo Delgado’s Palma district and near Ibo Island in three incidents mid-April; notably, security forces 12 April allegedly killed up to twelve civilians travelling by boat from Pemba to Ibo Island. Renamo dissident faction, which calls itself Renamo Military Junta, continued attacks against civilians in centre. Following Jan threat that faction would target businesses unless govt denied that Momade represented party, group’s leader Mariano Nhongo 7 April claimed previous day attack on camp of Chinese-owned timber company which left one worker dead in Matarara camp, Manica province.
Suspected Islamist militants for first time mounted attacks against urban centres in far north reportedly leaving dozens of soldiers and police dead; tensions continued between govt and armed dissident faction of former rebel group, now opposition party Renamo, amid ongoing attacks on civilians in centre. In Cabo Delgado province in far north, attacks by Islamist militants spread for first time to urban centres late March. Notably, Islamic State (ISIS) 24 March claimed previous day attack on port town of Mocímboa da Praia, said dozens of soldiers and police killed; militants flying ISIS flag 25 March raided town of Quissanga, reportedly killing six soldiers and unknown number of civilians. Islamist violence persisted in rural areas, including: ISIS 3 March claimed attack same day on Mahate village, Quissanga district, that left twelve soldiers dead; militants 4 March killed four people in Nkonda village in Nangade district; 10 March attacked army outposts near Mueda and Nangade, killing at least twelve soldiers, and same day reportedly killed up to eleven soldiers in Nguia village, Quissanga district; 4-12 March raided four villages in Mocímboa da Praia district, number of casualties unknown. Renamo dissident faction, which calls itself Renamo Military Junta, continued attacks on civilians and govt forces on main axes in Sofala province in centre, leaving at least one civilian dead near Nharichonga, Nhamatanda district mid-March. Group’s leader Mariano Nhongo 19 March threatened war if govt refused to accede to his demands. Demobilisation and disarmament of Renamo forces continued to lag behind schedule as Aug 2020 deadline to dismantle all Renamo bases nears; Renamo leader Ossufo Momade 18 March blamed delay on “agenda issues”, said process would resume late March. In response to COVID-19, President Nyusi 30 March declared state of emergency, limiting internal movement and partially closing borders from 1 April.
Attacks against civilians and security forces by suspected Islamist militants spread to new areas in far north, while demobilisation of troops from former rebel group, now opposition party Renamo, remained stalled. In Cabo Delgado province in far north, attacks by Islamist militants spread southward and westward across nine of sixteen districts, leaving dozens dead. Notably, militants killed seven civilians in Quissanga district 3 Feb and five others near Mahate village, also Quissanga district 8 Feb; militants killed three civilians in Nangade district 14 Feb, six in Nkomangano village, Mocimboa da Praia district 18 Feb, and three in Imbada village at border between Macomia and Quisanga districts 21 Feb. Islamic State (ISIS) 24 Feb claimed attacks on military posts 19-20 Feb at Chiculua and Nanquidinga villages, Mocimboa da Praia district, said seventeen soldiers were killed. In Niassa province, security forces 12 Feb killed eight suspected militants and captured four in Mecula district. After ruling out dialogue in Jan, President Nyusi in Cabo Delgado 12 Feb said he was willing to enter talks with militants. Nyusi 14 Feb urged opposition party Renamo to speed up demobilisation and disarming of its forces, currently behind schedule as Aug 2020 deadline to dismantle all Renamo bases nears. Govt 19 Feb reportedly reintroduced armed convoys on major axes in Sofala province following spate of attacks by suspected members of dissident Renamo faction. EU election observation mission 12 Feb reported “numerous irregularities and malpractice” in Oct presidential election, including ballot-box stuffing and altering of polling station results.
Suspected Islamist militants continued to attack civilians and security forces in far north and, as attacks on civilians continued in centre, armed dissident faction of opposition party Renamo threatened to escalate violence there. In Cabo Delgado province in far north, militants 3 Jan killed at least four people in ambush on minibus in Macomia district on Palma-Pemba axis; and 16 Jan killed three civilians near Roma, Mocimboa da Praia district. Militants 18 Jan killed one civilian and kidnapped two women in Manica village, Macomia district; 25 Jan attacked villages of Namaluco, Cagembe and Nagruvala in Quissanga district, killing at least three civilians. Islamic State (ISIS) 23 Jan claimed responsibility for attack on military base in Mbau same day that left 22 soldiers dead. In centre, police 5 Jan arrested six suspected members of dissident Renamo faction in Dondo, Sofala province. Following threats in Dec by faction, which calls itself Renamo Military Junta, to carry out attacks until govt denied that Renamo leader Ossufo Momade represented party, group’s leader Mariano Nhongo 13 Jan warned he would start targeting civilians and businesses. Momade 16 Jan ruled out dialogue with dissidents. Unidentified gunmen 20 Jan raided Macorococho village, Nhamatanda district in Sofala province, killing four people and looting medicine. Police continued to probe alleged links between Renamo MPs and attacks in centre, arresting and questioning several Renamo MPs throughout Jan.
Suspected Islamist militants intensified attacks on civilians and security forces in far north; deadly attacks rose in centre and dissident faction of opposition party Renamo threatened strikes there on day of President Nyusi’s inauguration for second term 15 Jan. In Cabo Delgado province in far north, militants carried out over a dozen attacks on civilians and security forces, leaving over 50 civilians and combatants dead. Notably, militants 4 Dec ambushed three vehicles 25km south of Palma, reportedly killing two; 12 Dec attacked Litapata and Malangonha villages in Muidumbe district, killing three. Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for 6 Dec ambush of military convoy in Narere village that left at least nine soldiers dead, bringing total number of ISIS-claimed attacks to at least 23. Residents in Chitunda and Namacande villages in Muidumba district 15 Dec chased away security forces in anger at their failure to protect civilians; suspected militants attacked Chitunda next day. Navy 14 Dec intercepted vessel smuggling over one tonne of heroin 50km off Cabo Delgado. Authorities 23 Dec seized over 430kg of heroin and arrested thirteen Pakistanis in Bay of Pemba. In central Mozambique, following attack on civilian vehicle late Nov, unidentified gunmen attacked bus in Manica province 2 Dec and three vehicles in Chibabava district, Sofala province 24 Dec, killing at least ten people. Renamo dissident faction, which calls itself Renamo Military Junta, denied attacks, but 27 Dec said attacks would stop if govt denied that Renamo leader Ossufo Momade represented party and threatened attacks on day of Nyusi’s swearing-in 15 Jan. Defence minister 12 Dec said Renamo was responsible for splinter group’s actions; Renamo accused govt of sponsoring dissident faction. Govt 26 Dec vowed to increase patrols and provide military escorts for vehicles travelling through centre. Constitutional council 23 Dec validated disputed results of Oct presidential election in favour of ruling party Frelimo; Renamo said it would not recognise council’s decision.
Court rejected opposition’s appeal against ruling party’s win in Oct presidential and parliamentary elections, and in north suspected Islamist militants continued to attack civilians as military continued operations against them. EU 8 Nov questioned credibility of Oct election results citing “irregularities and malpractices” during process. Constitutional Court 11 Nov dismissed opposition party Renamo’s application for annulment of poll results citing insufficient evidence. Renamo 22 Nov called for President Nyusi to resign after evidence emerged in U.S. court suggesting that he used funds borrowed by state-run security firms to finance 2014 presidential election campaign. In Manica province in centre, suspected Renamo splinter group 6 Nov ambushed minibus killing three. In Cabo Delgado province in north, suspected Islamist militants 2 Nov killed four civilians near Mumu village. Militants 12 Nov attacked Lucamba village, Nangade district killing eight civilians; 13 Nov killed seven fishermen in Nssemo village, Palma district. Military 16 Nov executed eight suspected militants in Macomia district. Islamic State (ISIS) 21 Nov claimed responsibility for 17 Nov attack in Chitunda district that killed eight including five soldiers. Militants 23 Nov killed six civilians in Darumba village, Macomia district. Militants 27 Nov killed two soldiers following attack on market area in Litingina, Nangade district. Defence Minister 13 Nov held talks with Tanzanian counterpart to discuss ways to improve security in border areas.
Tensions rose as opposition party Renamo rejected victories of President Nyusi and ruling Frelimo party in 15 Oct presidential and parliamentary polls, and fighting intensified in north between militants and govt forces backed by Russian private security company. Violent incidents marred lead-up to polls: in Sofala province in centre unidentified assailants 3 Oct bus killed three bus passengers and same day killed one person at River Pungué. In Gaza province in south, five assailants, including four suspected police officers, 7 Oct killed local electoral observer; govt next day launched investigation. Polling 15 Oct took place relatively peacefully, but in Cabo Delgado province in north seven polling stations did not open due to risk of attack by militants. Renamo 19 Oct rejected preliminary results that indicated clear Frelimo victory and called for rerun; 29 Oct appealed Constitutional Council to annul results. EU election observers and U.S. embassy 19 Oct denounced irregularities in process and questioned validity of results. In Nhamatanda, Sofala province, gunmen 29 Oct shot dead two police officers and kidnapped two Frelimo zone secretaries. In Cabo Delgado province, militants 2 Oct kidnapped twenty in Nantodola village. Personnel of Russian private security company Wagner Group reportedly arrived in Cabo Delgado province 2 Oct with materiel including three attack helicopters; govt 3 Oct acknowledged Russia was providing military support, Russia 8 Oct denied presence of its soldiers in country. In first official confirmation of govt attack on militants, govt said soldiers 5 Oct killed nine militants some 30km from Mocimboa da Praia. Clashes between militants and govt forces alongside Russians in Mocimboa da Praia district 7 Oct left over 30 militants and two Russians dead. Militants’ ambush in Muidumbe district 27 Oct reportedly left twenty Mozambican soldiers and five Russians dead. Militants 31 Oct killed ten civilians near Mbau village.
Ahead of 15 Oct general elections, opposition accused ruling Frelimo party of intimidation and trying to rig polls and suspected jihadist attacks continued in north; rebel faction and jihadists could seek to violently disrupt polling. Breakaway faction of former rebel group now opposition party Renamo 19 Sept reiterated pledge to disrupt polling and increase attacks during campaign. Renamo district delegate for Nampula in north 23 Sept said that Frelimo members had been intimidating Renamo supporters and preventing them from putting up election posters. Renamo officials 24 Sept accused Frelimo members of illicitly collecting voter cards in southern province of Inhambane to manipulate voting. Stampede at election rally for President Nyusi in Nampula 12 Sept left ten people dead. In far north, unidentified militants 18 Sept attacked Christian village of Quiterajo and military post in Cobre in Macomia district, Cabo Delgado province killing six and abducting ten, Islamic State same day claimed responsibility. Suspected jihadists 23 Sept attacked Mbau village in Mocimboa da Praia district killing twelve people and burning down Frelimo HQ. Same day militants decapitated two farmers near village of Mindumbe. Locals in Niassa province 18 Sept killed five Chinese employees of mining company suspected of trafficking human organs; police 20 Sept arrested two people in connection with killings.
Govt signed peace agreement with former armed opposition group Renamo formally ending hostilities, while in far north suspected Islamist militants continued to kill civilians. After Renamo fighters began to disarm late July, President Nyusi and Renamo leader Ossufo Momade 1 Aug signed agreement to mark official end to hostilities that raged between 1977 and 1992 and rekindled between 2013 and 2016; agreement follows previous deals signed in 1992 and 2015. Leaders 6 Aug signed agreement pledging to keep peace during Oct general elections. Renamo 16 Aug said police and supporters of ruling party Frelimo had since 8 Aug assaulted dozens of Renamo members in Tete, Zambezia, Inhambane and Gaza provinces. Mariano Nhongo, head of Renamo dissident faction Renamo Military Junta, declared himself Renamo leader 19 Aug, said that govt was “on collision course” with his faction if it remained in contact with Renamo leader Momade. Nhongo 28 Aug said elections would not take place and anyone calling for them would be killed. In Cabo Delgado in north, suspected Islamist militants 1 Aug burnt village near Macomia, causing no casualties; Islamic State (ISIS) reportedly claimed attack. Militants 23 Aug killed two near Machava, Nangade district and same day attacked Nangade town, killing three. Militants 27 Aug beheaded two civilians near Quelimane village, Mocimboa da Praia district; same day beheaded four fishermen along Pangane-Macotuco road and one near Simbolongo village in Macomia district. Unidentified assailants 26 Aug killed one in Ulo village, Mocimboa da Praia. Police 24 Aug arrested man in Mocimboa da Praia district for links with insurgents. Unidentified gunmen 26 Aug killed Louis Baziga head of Rwandan diaspora in Mozambique near capital Maputo. Attorney General 9 Aug charged twenty people in connection with govt’s attempt to hide $2bn debt, including son of former President Guebuza, in power when govt made debt deals.
Suspected Islamist militants continued attacks against civilians and security forces in Cabo Delgado province in far north where Islamic State (ISIS) claimed its second attack and frictions continued within former armed opposition Renamo. Police 3 July said it had arrested several Ahlu Sunnah Waa-Jama’a (ASWJ) gunmen after militants 26 June reportedly killed eleven civilians in Itole, Palma district. Militants 4 July reportedly beheaded three people in Chamala, Miudumbe district; 3 July attacked Lidjungo in Nangade district, killing one police and six civilians; ISIS 5 July claimed responsibility. After group claiming to be Renamo’s military wing from Sofala province threatened to kill party leader Ossufo Momade in June, another group of alleged Renamo fighters in Funhalouro, Inhambane province in south east early July threatened to derail implementation of disarmament agreement signed with govt 2 June if Momade did not step down, Renamo’s leadership called group “deserters”. Constitutional Council 9 July declined to hear Renamo’s complaint against electoral commission for allegedly inflating number of voters registered in Gaza province in south; Renamo said it would file criminal charges and request independent audit. Parliament 29 July passed amnesty bill that exempts from prosecution govt forces and Renamo fighters for crimes committed since 2014. Renamo’s armed wing 30 July started disarmament process. President Nyusi 31 July said govt would next day sign peace agreement with Renamo to put formal end to military hostilities. Newly appointed South African Justice Minister Ronald Lamola 13 July said he would ask courts to reverse his predecessor’s May ruling to extradite former Mozambican Finance Minister Manuel Chang to Mozambique, citing concerns that Chang still enjoyed political immunity; same day said he would consider extraditing Chang to U.S., where he is wanted for alleged involvement in Mozambique govt’s undisclosed $2bn loan that U.S. says was fraudulent. Chang 24 July resigned from parliament, losing his immunity.
Suspected Islamist militants continued attacks in Cabo Delgado province in far north and friction emerged within former armed opposition Renamo. Suspected Islamist militants 28 May ambushed passenger truck in Macomia district, killing sixteen. For first time Islamic State (ISIS) 4 June claimed presence in Mozambique, saying it had repelled army in Metubi village, Mocimboa area; police denied claim. Insurgents 24 June killed seven people in Dacia administrative post, Mocimboa da Praia district, same day reportedly killed eleven in Quionga administrative post, Palma district. Group claiming to be Renamo’s military wing 12 June threatened to kill party leader Ossufo Momade and derail implementation of disarmament agreement signed with govt 2 June if Momade did not step down. Divisions appear to have been resolved and Renamo 26 June formally nominated Momade as its presidential candidate. South Africa’s armed forces 16 June killed two Mozambican border police in clash near Ndumu in north-eastern South Africa; following preliminary investigation, South Africa 18 June said it would send high-level delegation to Mozambique to further investigate.
Suspected Islamist militants continued attacks in Cabo Delgado province in far north, disrupting voter registration for Oct general elections and prompting locals to hunt down suspected militants. Militants 3 May attacked voter registration post in Nacate, Macomia district, killing six people, vandalising equipment and burning several houses. Militants 5 May attacked Minhanha in Meluco district, killing three people and burning some 100 houses, leading to closure of five of 38 registration posts in Meluco. Militants 17 May attacked Ngalonga in Nangade district, burning 113 houses and disrupting registration. Villagers in Macomia district 4-5 May reportedly hunted down group of suspected militants, killing four. MPs from ruling Frelimo party 16 May demanded former armed opposition movement Renamo demobilise and disarm before Oct elections. In reversal of South African court’s April ruling, South African justice minister 21 May ruled that former Mozambican Finance Minister Manuel Chang would be extradited to Mozambique instead of U.S., where he is wanted for alleged involvement in Mozambique govt’s undisclosed $2bn loan that U.S. says was fraudulent.
Security forces kept up operations against suspected Islamist militancy in Cabo Delgado province in far north. President Nyusi 12 April visited Mocimboa da Praia and Palma districts, Cabo Delgado province, promising to reinforce patrols and saying security forces had captured several militant bases, including one in Nangade district early April, killing seven militants. Court 23 April released on bail two journalists detained in Jan while reporting on insurgency. Attorney general 24 April said govt would intensify cooperation with northern neighbour Tanzania to halt “cross-border” attacks. Court 25 April sentenced 37 people to prison for involvement in attacks. Court in South Africa 8 April ruled that former Mozambican Finance Minister Manuel Chang could be extradited from South Africa to U.S. where he is wanted for alleged involvement in govt’s undisclosed $2bn loan that U.S. says was fraudulent.
Suspected Islamist militants continued attacks in Cabo Delgado province in far north. Militants 14-15 March killed some thirteen civilians in attacks in Mocimboa da Praia district, burning down 120 homes; 22-24 March carried out four attacks in Macomia, Ancuabe and Meluco districts, with reports of injuries but no deaths. NGO Amnesty International 5 March alleged police had denied food and medical treatment to journalist detained without charge since Jan while reporting on displacement of people due to attacks. President Nyusi 12 March denied assertion of former FM Pacheco that 400 officers from former armed opposition movement Renamo had been incorporated into armed forces, saying true number was fourteen. Tropical cyclone Idai hit 15 March, flooding much of central Mozambique and cutting off port city of Beira; over 700 reportedly killed and estimated 500,000 displaced; govt mounted humanitarian response amid reports of outbreaks of cholera and concerns that displacement could lead to widespread food insecurity.
Suspected Islamist militants continued attacks in Cabo Delgado province in far north. Suspected militants 1 Feb beheaded four people in Nangade district; 8 Feb reportedly hacked seven men to death and abducted four women in Piqueue village, Macomia district; 21 Feb carried out two attacks on workers of oil and gas company Anadarko on road between Mocimboa da Praia and Afungi, killing one; 23 Feb killed six people in Macomia district. U.S. late Jan said it was ready “to increase cooperation” to assist fight against militants. Following attack on Anadarko workers, govt deployed Special Forces to Cabo Delgado province. Govt 20 Feb detained journalist reporting on insurgency; next day, NGO Human Rights Watch report alleged widespread intimidation, detention and prosecution of journalists covering attacks in Cabo Delgado by security forces. Authorities 14-18 Feb arrested at least six people in connection with govt’s attempt to hide $2bn debt including son of former President Guebuza, in power when govt made debt deals, and former head of intelligence. Leader of former armed opposition movement Renamo, Ossufo Momade, elected in Jan, sacked party secretary and other officials 15 Feb. Momade and President Nyusi resumed talks 27 Feb to review progress in integration of Renamo cadres into police and army.
Suspected Islamist militants continued attacks in Cabo Delgado province in far north. Militants 6 Jan attacked minibus in Nangade district, killing driver and six passengers and attacked another vehicle in Palma town 12 Jan, killing fifteen. Assailants 10 Jan beheaded four people in Manila village in Mocimboa da Praia district and same day killed man in neighbouring Palma district. Govt 9 Jan said it had recently destroyed eight militant training camps, giving no further details. Some 200 residents of Palma town demonstrated 13 Jan, demanding that construction of liquefied natural gas plants on coast be suspended until attacks stop. Police 5 Jan arrested and detained journalist covering displacement of people due to attacks. Former armed opposition movement Renamo 17 Jan elected former guerrilla commander and MP Ossufo Momade as leader; Momade same day said Renamo was committed to peace.
Suspected Islamist militants continued attacks in Cabo Delgado province in far north. Assailants 18 Dec reportedly beheaded two civilians in Chitoyo village and same day killed two in Muidumbe district. Assailants 21 Dec attacked Chicomo village, Macomia District, burning down 103 homes. Local residents 7 Dec captured former soldier suspected of leading insurgent attacks, Mustafa Suale Machinga, and handed him over to authorities in Litingina village, Nangade district. Implementation of peace deal between govt and former armed opposition movement Renamo advanced with 13 Dec appointment of three senior Renamo officials to positions in military, namely as directors of operations, military information and communications.
Suspected Islamist militants stepped up attacks in Cabo Delgado province in far north. Militants 14 Nov executed village chief in Macomia district and 23 Nov attacked village in Nangane district, killing twelve and causing thousands to flee across border into Tanzania. Same night assailants ambushed and killed truck driver on border between Cabo Delgado and Niassa provinces. Militants attacked Nacotuco village, Macomia district 27 Nov, killing one person. Authorities 26-28 Nov arrested over 200 people suspected of belonging to Islamist militant group. Constitutional Council 14 Nov validated results of 10 Oct municipal elections except for in Marromeu municipality, in central province of Sofala, where ruling Frelimo party won 22 Nov re-run.
Govt 3 Oct put on trial 189 people suspected of belonging to Islamist militant group active in Cabo Delgado province in far north near Tanzanian border, suspects reportedly include 29 Tanzanians and three Somalis. Tanzanian police late Oct said it had arrested 104 people in Tanzania, whom it claims were planning to set up bases in Cabo Delgado; Mozambique police 23 Oct said number arrested had risen to 132. In local elections 10 Oct, ruling Frelimo party won 44 of 53 municipalities (down from 49) with 57% of total vote, while main opposition party Renamo – contesting local elections for first time in a decade – won eight municipalities with 36.5% of vote. Renamo claimed its victory was stolen in five further municipalities. Renamo and civil society groups accused Frelimo of ballot stuffing and spoiling and highlighted irregularities in counting. U.S. embassy called elections “largely free and fair”. In run-up to vote, Frelimo and Renamo supporters clashed in western city of Tete 7 Oct, twelve arrested; police 8 Oct used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse parade of Renamo members and supporters in central province of Zambezia. President Nyusi 6 Oct launched initiative to disarm and reintegrate Renamo’s military wing; some Renamo fighters to be integrated into army and police. Renamo 24 Oct said peace talks with govt on hold due to alleged election fraud.
Alleged Islamist militants 20 Sept killed twelve people, injured fourteen and set fire to over 50 houses in Paqueue village, Cabo Delgado province near Tanzanian border in far north. Gunmen 20 Sept attacked military convoy near Tanzanian border, killing one officer. Defence minister 12 Sept said demilitarisation and reintegration of former rebel movement Renamo was going ahead “as planned”. Policeman serving in border guard (who is also ruling party Frelimo’s first secretary of Bairro Mpadue) 27 Sept shot and injured Renamo activist who went to police to file complaint in Tete in west.
Islamist militants continued attacks in far north as govt and armed opposition Renamo took further steps to cement peace. Govt forces 16 Aug attacked alleged camp of Islamist militants – known locally as both Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a and Al-Shabaab – near Pundanhar village, Palma district, Cabo Delgado province near Tanzanian border in far north, killing at least four and capturing suspected leader, Abdul Raim. Raim was one of six men police identified as group’s ringleaders mid-Aug. In response, militants attacked Pundanhar 21 Aug wounding civilian and destroying local administration’s office. Four insurgents 23 Aug reportedly attacked Cobre village near Quitarajo, Macomia district on coast, killing two. Govt and Renamo 6 Aug signed MoU on military matters setting out steps to disarm, demobilise and integrate group’s fighters into security forces and society. President Nyusi 16 Aug said govt and Renamo would set up four working groups – Commission on Military Affairs and three Joint Technical Groups – to implement MoU.
In far north, suspected Islamist militants reduced rate of attacks as security forces increased presence. In Cabo Delgado province, militants 7 July beheaded four men and burned five houses in Macanga area; 10 July killed two and burned houses in Quisingule village. President Nyusi and leader of opposition Renamo party, Ossufo Momade, 11 July jointly announced that Renamo would disarm, condition set by ruling Frelimo party in June for holding of Oct local elections; Nyusi said parties would sign formal agreement to integrate Renamo fighters into police and defence force. Parliament 20 July passed electoral reforms in accordance with agreement between govt and Renamo to decentralise power.
In Cabo Delgado province in north, suspected Islamist militants – known locally as both Ahlu Sunna wal Jama'a and Al-Shabaab – increased rate of attacks on villages, carrying out at least seven, mainly in Macomia and Quissanga districts, and killing at least 39 people. Notably, in Naunde village, Macomia 5 June attackers armed with machetes beheaded local Islamic leader and burned homes, cars and cattle; in raid on Namaluco village, Quissanga district 6 June, attackers beheaded three people, shot dead three others and burned over 100 houses. In latest attack, on Litandacua village, Macomia 19 June, militants killed five people. In response, interior minister 9 June announced establishment of army command centres in Macomia and Quissanga districts. President Nyusi 25 June said security forces had arrested several suspects in connection with attacks. U.S. mid-June “strongly advised” its citizens to consider leaving Palma district and UK 12 June warned against all but essential travel to Palma, Mocimboa de Praia and Macomia districts. U.S. petroleum company Anadarko began evacuating staff from liquefied natural gas plant on Afungi peninsula, Palma district. Parliament 20 June postponed special session, scheduled for 21-22 June, to consider amendments to electoral laws that would dictate running of Oct municipal elections and advance decentralisation; ruling Frelimo party reportedly asked armed opposition Renamo to commit to disarm its militants by 10 Oct vote as precondition for holding special parliamentary session.
Leader of armed opposition Renamo, Afonso Dhlakama, died 3 May. Former Renamo Sec Gen, Ossufo Momade, elected interim leader 5 May until party congress elects successor. Parliament 23 May approved decentralisation reforms so that, instead of president, parties that win local elections will choose provincial governors. Some 200 women and children 8 May reported to police in Cabo Delgado province in north claiming they had escaped from camps run by Islamist militants in Mocimboa de Praia district. Armed Islamists reportedly attacked two villages, Monjane and Ulumbi, near Palma, Cabo Delgado province (north) 26-27 May abducting and beheading ten civilians from Monjane.
In north, suspected Islamist militants 21-22 April attacked two villages near Mocimboa da Praia and Palma respectively killing one civilian. Disagreement between ruling Frelimo and armed opposition Renamo over who should appoint district administrators blocked parliamentary discussion of constitutional changes aimed at decentralisation and consolidating peace agreement.
Three main parties – ruling Frelimo, armed opposition Renamo and Democratic Movement of Mozambique – 27 March agreed on “consensus document” containing proposed constitutional changes that would advance decentralisation, measures critical to shoring up peace between govt and Renamo; proposals to be debated in parliament. Security forces 24 March detained 29 people in Nampula province, north east who allegedly intended to join Islamist extremists in Cabo Delgado province in north.
As result of ongoing talks between govt and armed opposition group Renamo and conceding to its demands for greater powers in central provinces, President Nyusi 7 Feb said he would propose constitutional changes enabling political parties that win provincial parliamentary elections to select regional governors, for approval by president. In second face-to-face meeting since Dec 2016 truce, Nyusi and Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama at Namadjiwa, 40km from Gorongosa in centre 19 Feb discussed disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of Renamo members and incorporation of its officers into armed forces.
Suspected Islamist militants from group known locally as Al-Shabaab 13 Jan attacked govt building in Palma district, Cabo Delgado province near border with Tanzania in far north, killing five. Unidentified assailants 15 Jan attacked village in Nangade district, Cabo Delgado province, killing two people; locals blamed attack on same group.
Following attacks by unidentified gunmen on police stations in Cabo Delgado province in far north in Oct and killing of two villagers in same area late Nov, police 26 Dec said they would launch “terrorist hunt” in forests around Mutumbate, Cabo Delgado province.
Reportedly Muslim armed group which locals call “Al-Shabaab” attacked three police stations in Mocimboa da Praia, Cabo Delgado province in far north about 30km from Tanzanian border 5 Oct, killing two policemen; govt forces retaliated killing sixteen people, including local community leader. Same group reportedly clashed with security forces at Maluku on coast 21 Oct, and further clashes reported night of 22 Oct at Columbe village. In north, unidentified assailant in Nampula, stronghold of opposition Democratic Movement of Mozambique, killed city’s mayor 4 Oct. Police opened fire on crowd in Mandimba, Niassa province in north west 2 Oct reportedly protesting suspected police involvement in trader’s death previous day, four people killed in clashes. President Nyusi late Oct replaced heads of intelligence, police and army.
Political Commission of ruling FRELIMO party 13 Sept nominated President Nyusi as party’s candidate for 2019 presidential election.
President Nyusi and Afonso Dhlakama, leader of armed opposition group Renamo, met in Gorongosa mountain district 6 Aug to discuss peace process, first meeting since 2015; Renamo said decentralisation laws must be put before parliament by Dec, ahead of 2018 local elections. Dhlakama said in interview published 31 Aug that he will sign peace deal with govt by early-Nov to end dispute over 2014 elections.
Govt early July insisted govt forces had withdrawn from eight positions near stronghold of armed opposition Renamo in Gorongosa mountains in Sofala province in centre, as promised by President Nyusi 25 June, after Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama denied withdrawal. Ceasefire persisted. After 10-19 July mission, IMF decided it would not resume financial assistance to govt this year due to missing “critical information” relating to govt’s use of proceeds from loans, demanded tax rises and spending cuts.
To consolidate ceasefire between govt and armed opposition Renamo, President Nyusi 25 June said govt forces would withdraw next day from eight more positions near Renamo stronghold in Gorongosa mountain range in Sofala province in centre; Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama 30 June said progress slow.
Armed opposition Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama 4 May extended unilateral ceasefire indefinitely. President Nyusi 6 May said talks ongoing and called for patience.
As closed-door peace talks continued between armed opposition Renamo and govt, Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama 19 April said he was ready to declare indefinite ceasefire if govt maintains its side of deal.
Switzerland 1 March announced it would co-chair contact group also comprising U.S. (co-chair), Botswana, China, Norway, UK and EU, to support new phase of talks between govt and armed opposition Renamo and provide two specialists to advise parties. Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama 3 March extended ceasefire for two months. Talks resumed 6 March.
President Nyusi and leader of Renamo armed opposition Afonso Dhlakama 3 Feb said internationally mediated talks had ended and new phase would begin soon; both sides subsequently named new representatives to conduct talks in two working groups on military issues and decentralisation respectively.
Peace talks between govt and armed opposition Renamo remained stalled with no date for restart. Renamo extended unilateral ceasefire begun 27 Dec for two months from 2 Jan; Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama said govt troops largely respected ceasefire. Unidentified gunmen 15 Jan shot dead district representative of opposition party Mozambique Democratic Movement (MDM) in Tambara, Manica province in centre.
International mediators left country early Dec as talks between govt and Renamo armed opposition remained stalled. Nampula provincial assembly member from Renamo shot dead 15 Dec in Nampula in north. Renamo gunmen attacked train at Inhamitanga 7 Dec in central province Sofala, kidnapped fifteen people 7 Dec in Barue, Manica province in west, later released. Police 21 Dec accused Renamo of several attacks in central region including on Inhazonia jail, releasing 48 prisoners. Unidentified assailants kidnapped man and stole cattle in Zimbabwe and returned to Mozambique late Dec (see Zimbabwe). Renamo 27 Dec declared seven-day ceasefire for New Year. Unidentified gunmen shot dead senior Renamo official and former MP, Jose Naitelé, in Nampula city 29 Dec.
Indirect peace talks resumed 14 Nov: govt and armed opposition Renamo delegations 14 Nov submitted responses to international mediation’s proposal on decentralisation. Unidentified gunmen shot and wounded Renamo official 2 Nov in Mocuba, Zambezia province in centre. Crowd 7 Nov burnt down office of Renamo’s civilian wing in Muatalala suburb of Nampula city in north reportedly protesting insecurity. Renamo reportedly fired shots at train in Malema district, Nampula province 8 Nov but caused no damage.
Killing of Renamo armed opposition officials and continued fighting between Renamo and govt forces undermined mediation. Unidentified gunmen shot dead Renamo negotiator Jeremias Pondeca in Maputo 9 Oct, two senior Renamo members in Ribaue district, Nampula province 18 Oct and Renamo official in Gurue, Zambezia province 27 Oct. Govt forces reportedly captured Renamo bases at Murrotone, Zambezia province 11 Oct and at Murrupula, Nampula province 14 Oct. International mediators 18 Oct resumed separate talks with govt and Renamo delegations. Mediators 22 Oct tried to meet Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama at camp in Gorongosa, but Dhlakama called off meeting. Mediators 25 Oct resumed talks with delegations separately but suspended them 28 Oct following reported clashes between Renamo and army, lead mediator said talks will resume 10 Nov.
Indirect talks between govt and Renamo armed opposition restarted 12 Sept but made no progress toward ceasefire. Govt-Renamo Joint Commission 20 Sept agreed Renamo would propose plan for integration of rebel fighters into army and police; mediators 27 Sept presented commission with proposal on appointment of governors in contested central and northern provinces. Renamo gunmen 2 Sept reportedly murdered local govt official and traditional chief in Nhamatanda district, Sofala province. Security forces early month reportedly stormed Renamo base in Sabe, Morrumbala district, Zambezia province. Renamo 19 Sept reportedly held up nine vehicles in Chupanga area, central Sofala province. Unidentified gunmen 22 Sept shot dead Armindo Antonio Nkutche, Renamo member of Tete provincial assembly in Moatize, Tete province; Renamo blamed ruling Frelimo party.
Govt and armed opposition Renamo 17 Aug agreed to set up committee to draft new laws that could enable appointment of Renamo governors in six central and northern provinces where party claimed it won 2014 elections. Delegations suspended talks late month until 12 Sept having failed to agree ceasefire. Renamo continued attacks on civilians and police in Tete, Sofala, Manica, Zambezia and Niassa provinces including freeing 23 prisoners in Morrumbala, Zambezia 12 Aug; killing six at Nangue, Sofala 12 Aug; and wounding four in ambush between Vanduzi and Luenha river, Manica 22 Aug.
Peace talks between armed opposition Renamo and govt began in Maputo 21 July but suspended 23 July amid disagreements. Tensions persisted as Renamo continued ambushes and raids: militants raided health centres in Banga, Tete province and Muapula, Niassa province 6 and 24 July respectively; 23-24 July ambushed truck near Barue, Manica province; 25 July ambushed coal train near Inhamitanga, Sofala province; attacked police station and health centre in Mopeia, Zambezia province and Maiaca, Niassa province 30 and 31 July respectively. Renamo 13 July kidnapped former Renamo MP Manuel Lole in Chimoio, Manica province; Lole’s body found in Tica, Sofala province 16 July.
After longstanding rejection President Nyusi 18 June accepted foreign mediation of peace talks with armed opposition Renamo. Renamo attacks on civilians and infrastructure increased including 4 June attack on two lorries in Barue district, Manica province. Ruling Frelimo MPs 22 June called on attorney general to bring charges against Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama for group’s actions.
Armed opposition Renamo 18 May agreed to talk with govt, but violence continued. Govt-Renamo mixed commission 30 May approved agenda for peace talks, preparations ongoing for Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama to meet President Nyusi. However, clashes between Renamo militants and security forces continued with at least a dozen people killed in May. Renamo 18 May echoed 5 May demand by Mozambican Human Rights Commission for inquiry into allegations of murders by security forces, focusing on discovery of thirteen bodies in Gorongosa province in April. Following its admission in April of $1bn undisclosed debts, govt revealed it failed to disclose two other loans totalling over $1.4bn; donor grouping Programme Aid Partners responded early May suspending financial aid.
Attacks on civilians and clashes between govt troops and Renamo fighters continued throughout month; clashes 10 and 12 April in Manica and Sofala provinces respectively left at least twenty Renamo fighters and one soldier dead. Unidentified assailants 18 April shot and injured senior provincial Renamo leader Antonio Chule in Inhambane, Inhambane province. President Nyusi maintained appeals for talks with Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama but sidestepped Renamo demands. Farmers 28 April reportedly found mass grave containing over 100 bodies in Renamo heartland, Gorongosa district, Sofala province. IMF 18 April, World Bank 27 April and UK 28 April suspended aid after govt confirmed it had failed to disclose over $1bn debt and borrowing from Credit Suisse and Russia’s VTB bank since 2013.
Rebel group Renamo continued attacks on civilian vehicles including: 5 March opened fire on bus in Manica province, killing two; 23 March reportedly separately opened fire on same bus twice, leaving two wounded; 29 March reportedly opened fire on govt convoy in Manica province, injuring three police. Police 28 March reported seizing weapons from Renamo HQ and home of leader Afonso Dhlakama in Maputo. Dhlakama 8 March refused dialogue with President Nyusi until govt cedes power in six central and northern provinces and organises international mediation. In concession to Renamo, Nyusi 3 March replaced police chief Jorge Khalau who led interventions to neutralise Dhlakama including Oct 2015 disarming of his bodyguards. Over 11,500 reported to have fled to Malawi since military operations to disarm Renamo began in Tete province Oct 2015; govt denies allegations of human rights violations by security forces.
Opposition Renamo early Feb rejected talks with President Nyusi, arguing Renamo leader Dhlakama’s safety could not be guaranteed. Renamo 8 Feb said it would block roads in Sofala province; clashes and attacks on civilian vehicles left several dead and injured, security forces 19 Feb resumed armed escorts for civilians along 100km section of EN1 highway into Sofala. Renamo gunmen 15 Feb shot dead ruling Frelimo party judge Manecas da Silva and secretary in Sofala. Military operations to disarm Renamo militants in Tete province continued to generate refugee flows; over 6,000 have reportedly fled into Malawi amid calls for investigations into alleged executions and sexual abuses by security forces.
Tensions between govt and opposition Renamo increased following 20 Jan alleged assassination attempt of Renamo Sec Gen Manuel Bissopo by unidentified gunmen in Beira; Renamo leader Dhlakama alleged Frelimo was responsible for attack. Attack followed press conference at which Bissopo denounced alleged atrocities committed by defence and security forces against Renamo members and supporters in recent weeks. Dhlakama 14 Jan said his decision to seize control of six northern provinces from March 2016 is “irreversible”; ruled out possibility of talks with President Nyusi. Renamo gunmen 28 Jan clashed with security forces in Zero village, Zambezia province, no casualties reported. UNHCR 15 Jan reported significant increase in recent weeks of people fleeing intensified clashes between govt and Renamo, seeking refuge in Malawi.
Parliament 7 Dec rejected opposition Renamo’s proposed constitutional amendment to allow leader Dhlakama to appoint governors in provinces where he won most votes in Oct 2014 presidential election. In first media interview since security forces forcefully disarmed his bodyguards in Oct, Dhlakama 17 Dec threatened to “democratically” seize control of six northern and central provinces, Sofala, Manica, Zambezia, Tete, Nampula and Niassa, from March 2016. Dhlakama ruled out dialogue with President Nyusi, stating all channels had been suspended. Margarida Talapa, head of ruling Frelimo’s parliamentary group, 17 Dec urged Renamo deputies to persuade Dhlakama to accept President Nyusi’s repeated invitations for dialogue.
Govt continued hardline approach to opposition Renamo: PM do Rosário 5 Nov threatened to forcibly disarm Renamo’s armed wing. President Nyusi 19 Nov continued calls for dialogue and called for restraint in disarming Renamo, rejected Renamo Gen Sec Manuel Bissopo’s demand for shift from national to international mediators. Fighting between security forces and Renamo gunmen in central provinces of Sofala and Zambezia continued, govt said clashes part of continued operations to disarm Renamo.
Renamo leader Dhlakama 4 Oct said he is prepared to resume dialogue with govt following Sept Renamo-police clashes. Security forces 9 Oct detained Dhlakama at his home for several hours immediately following his return from hiding; disarmed and arrested his sixteen bodyguards. Low-scale clashes between security forces and Renamo gunmen continued with incidents reported early-Oct in Manica and Tete provinces, reports of casualties not confirmed. Ruling Frelimo 21 Oct called for urgent disbandment and disarmament of Renamo.
Series of violent incidents reported between police and Renamo militia in central Manica province following late-Aug breakdown of govt-Renamo peace talks and continued Renamo boycott of talks. Police 25 Sept reported Renamo leader Dhlakama’s convoy opened fire on minibus taxi; ensuing gun battle with police reportedly left some twenty dead, including at least thirteen members of Dhlakama’s convoy. Earlier in month, four Renamo members wounded when unidentified gunmen 12 Sept reportedly opened fire on Dhlakama’s motorcade. Dhlakama accused ruling Frelimo party of attack; Renamo Gen Sec Manuel Bissopo 17 Sept said party would seek revenge.
Low-intensity govt-Renamo conflict in central provinces continued. Suspected Renamo gunmen 22 Aug ambushed police unit in Moatize district, Tete province; Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama 21 Aug called on veterans and demobilised soldiers to help install local govts by force in central provinces. Renamo 24 Aug suspended weekly talks with govt following clashes with police.
Govt 13 and 27 July accused opposition Renamo of violating Sept ceasefire, launching attacks against police units 3 July and attacks against army 27 July in Tete province. Malawian press 27 July reported some 678 Mozambicans have fled across border into Malawi seeking asylum since 3 July. Renamo 6 July reiterated demands for greater stake in provincial affairs; leader Afonso Dhlakama threatened to expel provincial governors and district administrators from Manica, Sofala, Tete, Zambezia, Nampula and Niassa provinces.
Tensions between President Nuysi and opposition Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakhama escalated after talks failed to resolve outstanding disagreements around devolution and security sector reform. Renamo forces and police clashed 14 June in Tete province: Dhlakhama 23 June said he ordered his forces to confront govt troops, claimed 45 soldiers killed; police said one killed. Renamo MP Jose Manteigas 15 June announced Renamo will establish own police and armed forces, Dhlakhama at risk of assassination. Despite increased tensions, govt and Renamo 23 June signed agreement on separation of party and state, following 108th round of dialogue.
Opposition Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama 23 May issued ultimatum to President Nyusi, giving him 35 days to reverse 30 April parliamentary vote against autonomous provinces proposal or Renamo would take provinces “by force”. Mandate of international observation mission tasked with overseeing demobilisation of residual Renamo forces (EMOCHM) ended 16 May; mediators 12 May said Renamo-govt disarmament talks failed.