Suspected insurgents launched multiple attacks on the Cabo Delgado district of Macomia on Thursday morning, simultaneously attacking the town of Macomia and the villages of Chai and Litamanda, according to multiple reports.
Mozambique’s armed forces are responding, with the help of at least two helicopter gunships operated by private military company DAG, according to two security analysts citing multiple sources on the ground. One person from the town of Macomia, who has fled into the surrounding bush, told Zitamar he feared for his safety from indiscriminate bombing by the helicopters.
Large groups of insurgents arrived in vehicles and were armed with rocket propelled grenades, according to Jasmine Opperman who analyses the conflict for ACLED. They targeted a bank and government buildings, including the residence of the district administrator — which had been abandoned by members of the defence and security forces (FDS), according to Pinnacle News, which said the FDS had moved to strategic locations from which to attack the insurgents.
The attackers wore FDS uniforms, witnesses said — leading to initial suspicions that the attacks were being perpetrated by members of the FDS ahead of their being rotated out of the area.
Locals in Macomia fled to the surrounding bush after the attacks started at 4:00 on Thursday morning, the Macomia resident told Zitamar News. Pinnacle News said that locals there had already planned their escape routes in preparation for an attack on the town.
Pinnacle said the insurgents are directly attacking FDS positions, and had prepared ambushes for reinforcements travelling north to Macomia from Pemba. Nevertheless, Pinnacle said, the FDS were prepared for an attack after insurgents were noticed yesterday around Licobe, just south of Chai.
By midday, some sources were claiming that government troops had retaken Macomia town. Nuno Rogeiro, a Portuguese commentator on the conflict, said on Facebook and Twitter that order was being restored to the town, but that the attackers “remain at large.” Earlier, he had claimed that the insurgents were carrying out what they called “Operation Eid”, attacking “at least 25 locations” in Macomia and Muidumbe districts. Egidio Vaz, a Mozambican government propagandist, said on Facebook that the FDS were combating the insurgents wherever they were attacking — but denied that there had been an attack at Chai.
This article was produced by Zitamar and Mediafax under the Cabo Ligado project, in collaboration with ACLED
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