Two girls are providing information to the police in Cabo Delgado after escaping from an insurgent camp where they had been taken after being kidnapped in a coastal village in Mocímboa da Praia district.
According to a source in Mocímboa da Praia town, where the girls arrived last Friday after five days travelling on foot, they testified to the existence of a large camp near the Messalo River, under tree cover so dense that lamps and lanterns were needed even during daylight hours — and which made it impossible for helicopters, which are supporting Mozambique’s armed forces’ counterinsurgency effort, to locate it.
The two girls were kidnapped from the village of Ulo, a coastal village south east of the town of Mocímboa da Praia; and arrived on Friday night in the Milamba neighbourhood of Mocímboa da Praia town, five days after fleeing the camp. The girls have since been flown to Pemba, the provincial capital, by helicopter to provide more information to investigators, a Milamba resident told Zitamar.
A resident of Mocímboa da Praia who spoke to the girls told Zitamar that they described the insurgents’ base as surrounded by a large fence, and made up of two structures: one for the leaders of the group; and another for those who have carried out the attacks on several villages. A large number of insurgents, of various nationalities, are based in the camp, and are able to watch television on the base, the girls said.
Helicopters had arrived to bomb the area, the girls told the source, but the base had not been hit. This is the second report of a failed helicopter bombing raid in recent days, as one source in Awasse, also in Mocímboa da Praia district, said a farmers’ encampment was bombed last week when it was mistaken for an insurgent base. Zitamar could not reach the police spokesman to verify this report.
Kidnapped women and girls are forced to sleep naked on the base at night, to discourage any escape attempts, the girls told Zitamar’s source. Girls kidnapped from the same place are also supposed to be kept in separate groups, to stop them plotting an escape, they said — but by coincidence these two girls from Ulo ended up together.
After the escape, they spent five days in the woods, first in Nanquidunga and later in the village Anga, from where they later arrived in the village of Mocimboa da Praia.
This article was produced in collaboration with Mediafax and ACLED
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