Mozambique’s Defense and Security Forces (FDS) on Tuesday warned civilians living in the area around Palma town that they must leave their villages by Monday 19 July to go to the nearby village of Quitunda, a local source told Zitamar News.
People from the villages in question, namely Ncumbi, Makongo, Olumbe and Monjane are prohibited from fishing or traveling by boat, and must only travel to Quitunda, the village next to the LNG project site that is housing thousands of refugees from Palma, according to one person from Monjane who is already displaced in Quitunda.
“We will remain here in Quitunda until we hear the results from the military who are in the bush working,” the source said.
Locals suspect government forces want to move all civilians away from the town in order to start shooting any outsiders found in the area, who will then be assumed to be insurgents.
On Wednesday, Cabo Delgado provincial governor Valige Tauabo visited Quitunda and told people they could not yet return to their villages — but promised that the FDS would soon make it safe to do so.
On Monday, insurgents attacked the village of Ncumbi, which is about 12 km from the town of Palma. The FDS are now being reinforced by a deployment of Rwandan troops in Palma — with local sources saying the district is more militarized than ever.
A convoy of 36 vehicles coming from Nacala, Nampula province, and carrying military personnel and equipment was seen on Thursday afternoon at Chiure heading towards Mueda, home to the main military base in northern Cabo Delgado.
The column included military and civilian vehicles, including the buses operated by transport company Nagi, which has long been the military’s favoured transport company. Due to this work commitment, only one Nagi bus made the Pemba-Nampula trip on Thursday, rather than the normal two, a source in Pemba told Zitamar.
People are still leaving Palma district in large numbers. On Monday, 1,150 displaced people from Palma arrived in the village of Ntamba, Nangade district, after making the journey on foot. Another 30 arrived in Nangade town last Saturday, a local resident told Zitamar.
Other displaced people have died leaving Palma, such as the nine who drowned on Saturday when a boat that left from Maganja, on the Afungi peninsula in Palma district, heading for Pemba, sank near Vamizi Island due to bad weather, the brother of one of the victims told Zitamar News.
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