More than 8,100 people have reached safety outside the northern Mozambican town of Palma a week after it was besieged by jihadists, the UN said Wednesday, as thousands of others remained stranded. Armed militants raided the coastal town on March 24, ransacking buildings and beheading residents as thousands fled into the surrounding forest.
Dozens have been killed and many more are still missing in a coordinated attack seen as the biggest escalation of an Islamist insurgency that has battered Cabo Delgado province since 2017.
“Many more people remain displaced inside of Palma, including thousands who have reportedly gathered near the Afungi complex, where the security situation remains volatile,” the UN agency for humanitarian assistance OCHA said.
Up to 10,000 are estimated to be around the Afungi peninsula gas site, according to sources involved. The fighting had already displaced nearly 700,000 people in the gas-rich province, more than 43,000 of which were staying in Palma before the attack.
Hundreds more were still seeking to leave Palma, while thousands were making their way out by foot, boat and road, the UN said.
Palma is around 10 kilometres (six miles) away from a multi-billion-dollar liquified natural gas (LNG) project led by French firm Total and involving other international companies.
But President Filipe Nyusi on Wednesday downplayed the latest attack as “not the biggest”, despite its unprecedented proximity to Africa’s single biggest investment project. We are still disembarking troops. We have not declared the end of our intervention,” mission commander Chongo Vidigal said.
Regional bloc the Southern African Development Community (SADC) held emergency talks in Harare to discuss the violence.
Total had already suspended operations and evacuated some staff in late December after jihadists launched a series of raids near its compound. It had just announced plans to progressively resume work hours before the militants attacked Palma.
In other news – Diamond Platnumz in hot water for Wearing Clothes Revealing Inner Body Parts
Bongo star Diamond Platnumz is known to have the love of fine things, from expensive cars, expensive designer clothes, and a huge mansion.
However, in a video released on his social media page, all that seemed to have changed. Learn more