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Escalating Insurgency in Mozambique: Islamist Attack on Northern Town of Macomia

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Ayize claire

May 11, 2024

Islamist militants have launched a significant attack on  a northern Mozambican town

According to President Nyusi's televised statement, the conflict in Macomia began early in the morning, with militants temporarily retreating after an intense 45-minute battle, only to regroup and launch a renewed assault. This attack marks one of the most severe in recent times and raises concerns about a potential security vacuum following the phased withdrawal of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) forces.
Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi confirmed that the army is actively engaged with Islamist insurgents

In a concerning development reported on May 10th, Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi confirmed that the army is actively engaged with Islamist insurgents who attacked the town of Macomia in the province of Cabo Delgado early Friday morning. This region, known for its significant natural gas resources, has been a hotspot for escalating insurgency activities linked to Islamic State militants since 2017.


Renewed Attacks Amidst Security Transition

According to President Nyusi's televised statement, the conflict in Macomia began early in the morning, with militants temporarily retreating after an intense 45-minute battle, only to regroup and launch a renewed assault. This attack marks one of the most severe in recent times and raises concerns about a potential security vacuum following the phased withdrawal of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) forces.


Regional Impact and International Involvement

The drawdown of SADC troops, which began last month, is set to complete by July. Experts like Piers Pigou from the Institute for Security Studies highlight the risks associated with this transition, noting that claims of stabilization in the province appear to be premature. Additionally, Rwandan forces remain deployed in Mozambique, aiding in the counter-insurgency efforts.


Humanitarian and Economic Consequences

The ongoing violence has had devastating humanitarian impacts, with the International Organization for Migration reporting over 110,000 people displaced since the end of last year. Economically, the insecurity poses significant challenges to major international investments in the region. French oil giant TotalEnergies is attempting to restart a $20 billion liquefied natural gas project halted in 2021 due to the insurgency, located approximately 200 kilometers north of the embattled town of Macomia. ExxonMobil, along with partner Eni, continues to develop another LNG project in the area, expressing optimism about the improving security landscape.


The situation in Macomia underscores the volatile security environment in Northern Mozambique and its implications for both local residents and international economic interests. The international community, alongside Mozambican forces, faces the urgent task of restoring stability to capitalize on the region's economic potential and ensure the safety of its people.


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