Increasing numbers of people fleeing fighting in northern Cabo Delgado province are arriving in the town of Montepuez on their way to Pemba or Nampula, though the Mozambican defence and security forces (FDS) have now reopened access to the main road that provides a more direct route to the south.
Insurgents controlled the village of Miangalewa, on the main E380 road in the east of Muidumbe district, for all of last week and sporadically before then — but the FDS now seem to have dislodged them.
On Friday afternoon, FDS members based in the nearby village of Litamanda passed through Miangalewa to check on damage done by an aerial bombardment close to the neighbouring village of Xitaxi, according to a trader in Chai, the closest significant market to Miangalewa and Litamanda. Last week, Pinnacle News released footage of helicopters bombing an area close to Litamanda.
The soldiers spent Friday night in Xitaxi, the Chai trader said, before returning to Litamanda. On the way back, along the road, they removed three barricades erected by insurgents, and two dead bodies. Civilians have also restarted using the route to get to Litamanda where there is a bus terminus, according to a resident in Muambula, one of Muidumbe’s largest villages.
Many people however continue to use the route to Montepuez, at least up until last weekend, with one minibus driver in the town telling Zitamar that the bus terminus in Montepuez is far busier than usual, with refugees mainly from Muidumbe heading to Pemba or on to Nampula.
Residents of Muidumbe villages are fearing another insurgent attack in the coming days, the source said. Refugees also stay in Montepuez, which is perceived as safe due to a heavy police presence in the town.
In Pemba, by contrast, the bus terminus is empty these days, according to Pinnacle News — who say there is almost no demand from people to head north into the districts. Nevertheless, Pinnacle says, some drivers do head north to bring back over-loaded buses full of refugees.
This article was produced by Zitamar and Mediafax under the Cabo Ligado project, in collaboration with ACLED.
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