A key port in Mozambique, which acts as the gateway to multi-million Rand natural gas operations has been captured by an extremist terror group.
There are calls for SADC to step in and deal with the clear threat of the Islamic State-linked terror group, Ansar al-Sunnah, who have claimed more than 1000 lives in the north of Mozambique, according to sources in the region.
If you talk to local insurgents, they refer to themselves as Shabaabs. not as Al-Sunna which indicates that the local roots are still predominant in terms of driving the insurgency.Jasmine Opperman, Analyst – Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project
She says since Islamic State first began taking credit for attacks in 2019 in the region, video and other evidence of 35 attacks show that their involvement cannot be ignored.
Mozambique’s Minister of Defense Jaime Neto said the attackers had attacked the village from the inside, killing civilians and damaging the nearby port.
The insurgents, sometimes called al-Sunna wa Jama’a, have ramped up attacks in the northern province of Cabo Delgado this year, displacing thousands of people and prompting some nongovernmental organizations to suspend activities in certain areas.
“We are concerned with it because we do believe that there is a local issue there, a local grievance that is now being leveraged by Islamic State in particular,” said Major Gen. Dagvin Anderson, commander of US Operations Command Africa, during a press conference on Aug. 4.
“The reason we believe that is we have seen them, over the last 12 to 18 months, develop in their capabilities, become more aggressive, and use techniques and procedures that are common in other parts of the world,” Anderson continued.
While the extent of the connection between ISIS and al-Sunna remains unclear, experts like Ewi say the insurgency in northern Mozambique is an international crisis requiring international support.