The Mozambican armed forces assure that they are fighting to expel the guerrillas from the town of Palma, in northern Mozambique. The village fell into the hands of the jihadists between Friday and Saturday.
The militias have been terrorizing the region since at least 2017, attacking the town on three fronts.
There are several reasons for the chaos in the region, as Jakkie Cilliers of the South African Institute for Security Studies explains.
"Now, the problem is that Mozambique has not effectively controlled the northern part of its territory. Western and northern Mozambique has been involved in ongoing wars and conflict with the Renamo grouping that originally was established by the former Rhodesian security forces and the South Africans as a kind of an internal counter counter terrorist group in Mozambique. So it's a region that has suffered from poor governance, massive corruption. And then there's this massive gas find which offers potential to the region. But locals are not seeing anything. What they are seeing is hundreds of foreigners, including South Africans, expatriates and elsewhere, coming in to build and to design and to provide resources. But very little of that is coming to the locals. And because of the organized crime component of this, the one feeds into the other and eventually desperate people resort to desperate means."
" the problem is that Mozambique has not effectively controlled the northern part of its territory. Western and Northern Mozambique have been involved in ongoing wars and conflicts with Renamo, which was originally established by the former Rhodesian security forces and the South Africans as a kind of internal counter-terrorist group in Mozambique. So it's a region that has suffered from bad governance, corruption on a massive scale. And then there's this massive gas discovery that offers potential for the region. But the local people are not seeing anything. What they do see are hundreds of foreigners, including South Africans, expats and others, coming in to build, design and provide resources. But very little of that is reaching the locals. And because of the organized crime component, one feeds off the other, and eventually desperate people resort to desperate means."
The population tries to escape the terror and death of the militias. According to witnesses, bodies of murdered adults and children are visible in the streets of the village.
A boat with 1,800 people who fled the terrorist attacks is already in the city of Pemba. On board were 200 expatriates of various nationalities, many working for the total oil company, who have taken refuge in the Amarula hotel in Palma since Wednesday afternoon, when the armed attack on the town began.
Mozambique has recently been living on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe with the massacre of populations, many people being beheaded, and mass exodus. There are at least 700,000 displaced people, most of them seeking refuge in camps near the city of Pemba.