Mozambique: insurgency in resource-rich Cabo Delgado fueled by influx of foreign jihadists

Mozambique: insurgency in resource-rich Cabo Delgado fueled by influx of foreign jihadists

The recent surge of new attacks by an Islamic State-affiliated group in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province has been fueled by an influx of Islamist fighters of different nationalities from other parts of Africa, experts and observers warn.

After several months of relative calm, Mozambique’s troubled Cabo Delgado province has been, since the beginning of 2024, engulfed in a new surge of violence as Islamist insurgents increase their international network in Africa. Armed attacks some two weeks ago left a total of 72 children missing, with fears they may have drowned in a river or been kidnapped by militants. The UN’s migration agency said nearly 100,000 people were displaced between early February and early March after IS-affiliated fighters launched a new offensive from their heartland in coastal central Cabo Delgado into the south. The army’s ability to stop the killings has long been questioned.

Mozambique has been fighting the jihadist militants in the mineral-rich Cabo Delgado province since October 2017. The insurgent group known locally as al-Shabab, which proclaimed affiliation with the so-called Islamic State in 2019, has been widely accused of brutal violence, beheadings and kidnappings. Experts warn that the violent insurgency in northern Mozambique has also been fueled by increased cooperation among Islamist terrorist organizations that are becoming increasingly interconnected, making it easier for them to respond to advances by security forces.

“More and more fighters of different nationalities — mainly Congolese, Ugandans, and Tanzanians, but also Kenyans and South Africans — are streaming into Cabo Delgado,” says Mozambican security expert Egna Sidumo, for whom there is only one solution: an increased international cooperation between security forces.

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