Southern African Troops to Stay in Mozambique Indefinitely
(Bloomberg) -- Southern African Development Community troops helping to fight an Islamic State-linked insurgency in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province will remain in the country until the situation on the ground is under control, the regional bloc said.
SADC also plans to add more ground forces to hold onto areas retaken from the insurgents, Mpho Molomo, special representative of the chair of the bloc’s organ on politics, defence and security cooperation, told reporters in Maputo, Mozambique’s capital, on Thursday. The bloc this month extended its mission’s mandate in Mozambique by another 90 days.
The four-year insurgency has caused more than 3,400 deaths and displaced over 800,000 people. Lasting peace and stability in the area may convince TotalEnergies SE to resume work on its $20 billion liquefied natural gas project that was suspended in April due to an escalation of violence in the region. Gas projects are seen as key to ramping up economic growth in the nation that contracted the most in almost three decades last year.
President Filipe Nyusi’s government accepted an offer for military help from SADC and a separate one from Rwanda this year, after a major attack near the gas projects in March showed his own troops had failed to contain the violence.
Insurgents have concentrated south of the Messalo River in Cabo Delgado, while also fleeing to the neighboring Mozambican provinces of Niassa and Nampula, as well as islands off the coast. Some have also gone into Tanzania, which borders Cabo Delgado to the north, Molomo said.
SADC’s mission in Mozambique is “very expensive” and the bloc is calling for international assistance, Molomo said, without providing details. There’s also a “huge need” for international help with the humanitarian situation and reconstruction efforts, he said.
The rebels have been making use of improvised explosive devices, according to Molomo, who said the bloc’s troops have the capabilities to deal with.
SADC forces have killed 20 “terrorists” and captured weapons and equipment, including documents and computers. The regional bloc’s specialists are studying the data to gain a better understanding of the insurgents, where they come from and how they operate, he said.
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