After the attack of 24 March 2021 and the takeover of Palma by the rebels, the Mozambican army is trying to regain control of the port city. At last count, several rebels have been put out of action by the military.
« It’s not over yet (…), but a significant number of terrorists have been killed, » Chongo Vidigal, commander of operations in Palma, told the press on Sunday. For several days, the Mozambican army has been conducting a real manhunt in Palma, a strategic port city in northeastern Mozambique that fell to the Shebab rebels, a group affiliated with the Islamic State, on the night of 26 to 27 March 2021.
The takeover of the town followed a carefully planned and executed attack by the Islamist group on 24 March. Dozens of civilians as well as Mozambican police and military personnel were killed. Nearly 10,000 inhabitants of the town, which numbered 75,000 before the attack, fled to the districts of Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba to seek refuge.
The town of Palma is located about ten kilometres from the Afungi peninsula where the Total group is developing a gigantic liquefied natural gas project costing several billion euros and due to be operational from 2024. The French company was forced to evacuate all its staff from the site, abandoning the facilities.
Since October 2017, the rebel group has been terrorising the inhabitants of Cabo Delgado, a province bordering Tanzania, and taunting Mozambican forces. From then until now, 700,000 people have been displaced, not only in Cabo Delgado, but also in the neighbouring provinces of Niassa and Nampula.