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05.06.2019 Mozambique

Islamic State make first claim of Mozambique presence: SITE

By AFP
Villages in remote northern Mozambique have been repeatedly attacked by a shadowy Islamist group -- more than 200 people have died since 2017.  By Joaquim Nhamirre (AFP)
JUN 5, 2019 MOZAMBIQUE
Villages in remote northern Mozambique have been repeatedly attacked by a shadowy Islamist group -- more than 200 people have died since 2017. By Joaquim Nhamirre (AFP)

The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the first time for an insurgent clash in northern Mozambique, according to SITE Intelligence which monitors jihadist activities worldwide.

An Islamist insurgency has been growing in the Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado since 2017, with more than 200 people killed and many villages torched.

Islamic State issued a statement late Tuesday claiming involvement in an apparent gunfight with the Mozambique military in Cabo Delgado province, although an insurgency expert expressed caution over the claim.

"The soldiers of the Caliphate were able to repulse an attack by the Crusader Mozambican army in Metubi village, in the Mocimboa area," said the statement, according to a SITE translation.

"They clashed with them with a variety of weapons, killing and wounding a number of them.

"The mujahideen captured weapons, ammunition, and rockets as spoils."

The Mozambican government and military decline to confirm any rebel activity.

Insurgents regularly attack villages, kill local people -- sometimes beheading them -- and burn down houses despite a heavy police and military presence in the northern province.

An insurgency expert who declined to be named said Islamic State were unlikely to have direct contact with the local fighters.

He said the claimed attack on Monday had not been reported locally, and the village of Metubi was not in Mocimboa da Praia district.

"Islamic State is not in Mozambique. It is just propaganda, but they might have links," the expert said.

Islamist fighters have targeted remote communities in gas-rich, Muslim-majority Cabo Delgado province since October 2017.

"The country is falling victim and we all need to understand the real reasons," President Filipe Nyusi said last month in an interview with the privately-owned Canal de Mocambique newspaper.

According to local sources, 16 people were killed in a highway ambush on May 31, in the highest single death toll of the insurgency.

Attackers threw home-made explosives into a truck -- a new tactic -- and then opened fire.

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