Southern Times Writer
Windhoek – Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi says most territories seized be rebels in the north of the country have been recaptured, while hinting that his government is not prepared to negotiate with the terrorists operating in Cabo Delgado Province.
He made the remarks as the country marked Victory Day, a celebration of Portugal’s agreement to pull out of Mozambique on September 7, 1974, which paved the way for the Southern African country’s Independence a year later.
President Nyusi said Mozambican, SADC and Rwandese forces had recaptured most of the areas grabbed by terrorists since they began their insurgency in 2017; adding that intelligence at hand indicated that the rebel leadership was drawn from Burundi, the DRC, Kenya, Rwanda, Somalia, Tanzania and non-Africans. He said the terrorists from these countries were recruiting “Mozambicans for their activities”, adding that they had never presented any demands to his government.
“The leaders of this criminal group have never shown their faces”, said President Nyusi. “So the Mozambican people still don’t know them”.
Among areas reclaimed by anti-terror forces are Mocimboa da Praia, its port and its airport. The forces are understood to be moving southwards to Mbau to lay siege on the main terrorist base known as “Siri 1”.
“Currently clean-up operations are under way”, said President Nyusi. “We are re-establishing electricity and water supplies, the mobile phone network, banks, roads, bridges and health centres”.
He said they were “suffocating the enemy”, while revealing that they were getting support from local militia formed by veterans of the Independence war and their descendants.
However, two soldiers from Botswana and Tanzania are among the casualties, with authorities attributing the deaths to accidents.
Since the insurgency started, more than 2,500 people have been killed and at least 800,000 displaced, triggering a humanitarian crisis in addition to the security threat.
However, the government says people are starting to return to their homes as Mozambican and international forces dismantle the rebel’s stranglehold on the north of the country.