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Oliver Meth

Multinational forces have been able to “disrupt” jihadist rebels in northern Mozambique since their deployment there last year, according to South Africa’s military chief.

More than 3,100 troops from several African countries moved into troubled Cabo Delgado province last July after Islamist insurgents seized territory.

Southern African “forces met strong resistance from the terrorists but were able to inflict fatal casualties and disrupt activities,” General Rudzani Maphwanya told media in Pretoria.

The international forces “continue to dominate and pursue the terrorists in the operational area.”

However, Maphwanya said military action was not enough to resolve the crisis. He called for stronger governance to help people in the region return to normal life.

“You must create conditions for the people of Mozambique to start picking up where things have fallen between the cracks and start going on with their lives.”

Jihadist violence has killed more than 3,700 people and displaced around 820,000 since 2017, according to the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank.

Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi reported in December that the gas-rich region had suffered fewer attacks since the international deployment. Cabo Delgado is the only part of Mozambique with a Muslim majority, and also one of the poorest parts of one of the world’s impoverished countries.

Efforts to exploit the gas fields have drawn the biggest-ever investments in Africa, including a $20-billion project from Total Energies. In March 2021, a raid on the coastal town of Palma prompted the oil and gas company to suspend work on the project.

Featured image: South Africa’s military General Rudzani Maphwanya /Oliver Meth/

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