On April 5th, the Mozambican armed forces said that they had recaptured the town of Palma from Al Shabaab insurgents.
Al Shabaab has pledged allegiance to ISIS.
A “significant” number of militants were killed in the counter-offensive, an army spokesman said.
Army spokesman Brigadier Chongo Vidigal said the gas plant was secure, and Palma was now “safe” .
“The airfield area was the only one we needed to clear and we did that [on Sunday]. It’s completely safe,” Brig Vidigal was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.
Dozens of civilians were killed and at least 11,000 displaced after the militants invaded Palma on March 24th.
A South African and British national were among those killed in what was one of the biggest attacks by the militants in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province since they launched an insurgency in the region in 2017.
In the first footage from Palma in the aftermath of the attack, state television broadcast images of soldiers putting black plastic sheets over the dead on the streets.
The town’s hospital, commercial banks and the state prosecutor’s office were all destroyed.
The governor of Cabo Delgado, Valgy Tauabo, visited Palma, and promised to help people rebuild their lives.
“We are now moving on to the next stage, one as critical as retaking the town, whereby we will be welcoming the communities who fled to the bush,” Brig Vidigal said.
President Filipe Nyusi insisted that the Palma attack “was not greater than others [in the past]”, French energy group Total suspended the $20bn development, which lies on the nearby Afungi peninsula and is Africa’s biggest private investment.
Attacks such as Palma “are clear indicators that Isis continues to actively seek to spread its malign activity to new fronts”, said John Godfrey, the anti-ISIS envoy for the US government, which officially regards the Cabo Delgado insurgents as “ISIS-Mozambique” terrorists.
As the insurgents took control of the town, nearly 200 international contractors and local civil servants fled to a major hotel, the Amarula, according to the AU report and security contractors. Many were later flown by helicopter to Afungi by Dyck Advisory Group, a South African private contractor.
Mozambican forces say they have now taken control but last week, when the army took journalists into Palma to show that the government was back in control, they came under fire from insurgents.
As such this retaking could be short-lived and a new attack may be incoming.
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