The northern Mozambique province of Babo Delgado once again became a battle ground for clashes between government forces and the local branch of ISIS.
According to reports from the ground, at least 10 soldiers were killed in an ISIS ambush in the area of Musemboa, while they were conducting a security operation in the area.
In own turn, pro-government sources claim that a number of ISIS members were killed near the port city of Mocímboa da Praia. Fighting between government troops and militants forced locals to flee the area using the maritime route.
ISIS attacks on Northern Mozambique causing thousands to try to escape on 6/28/2020.???? pic.twitter.com/4aqzD6QpHM
— Norma Callender (@CallenderNJ) June 28, 2020
Mocimboa de Praia is the important town located close to the site where foreign companies are working on a $60bn natural gas project.
In 2010, Mozambique discovered large gas reserves in Rovuma Basin, off the Indian Ocean coast of Cabo Delgado. In October 2019, ExxonMobil unveiled plans to invest more than $500m in the initial construction phase of its gas project in the region.
Mocimboa de Praia is strategically important to the project. Until recently it was the location of the main airport for workers traveling to the site, before a landing strip was built at Afungi itself. The port of Mocimboa de Praia is also used for some cargo deliveries.
Since March, ISIS cells have conducted multiple attacks in the countryside of Mocimboa de Praia itself and across the entire north of the country. The $60bn gas project developments apparently drew attention of militants that by their actions seek to set conditions for negotiations with foreign companies and the government in order to receive from them money for the halt of these attacks. In this conditions, ISIS may be just a brand used by local armed and criminal groups to promote their activities.
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