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Mozambique insurgent attack: 1,200 survivors ferried to safety

A boat carrying 1,200 survivors of a deadly attack by Islamic State-linked insurgents in northern Mozambique has reached safety, according to Reuters.

The ferry, carrying mainly women and children, docked on Thursday at around 0600 GMT in Pemba, the provincial capital of Cabo Delgado.

The boat arrived at the port with some of its occupants crying after spending days hiding in the bush. 

Islamist insurgents have been increasingly active in the surrounding province of Cabo Delgado since 2017, although it is not clear whether they have a unified aim or what specifically they are fighting for.

The district where Palma is located is adjacent to natural gas projects worth 60 billion Dollars. It is home to around 110,000 people according to United Nations (UN) estimates, of whom more than 40,000 sought shelter there after fleeing attacks elsewhere.

Mozambique’s government has confirmed the deaths of dozens in Palma, including at least seven killed when militants ambushed vehicles trying to escape the Amarula Hotel. One South African and a British national are reported to be among the casualties.

Military operations were ongoing on Wednesday, according to local news station TVM, which showed soldiers carrying rocket-propelled grenades and guns in the area, as well as reinforcements arriving by helicopter.

Meanwhile, Portugal, Mozambique’s former colonial ruler, was reportedly ready to send some sixty soldiers to help train government troops in Cabo Delgado.

Aid groups believe the insurgent attack, which commenced on March 24, has displaced tens of thousands of people. Hundreds, including many foreign workers, have been evacuated by air.

As of Wednesday afternoon, a UN migration agency tracker showed more than 8,100 people had been displaced, almost half of them children. Roughly 20% had arrived in Pemba, with others turning up in the districts of Mueda, Montepuez and Nangade in Cabo Delgado.

Reuters has however reported that the full scale of the casualties and displacement remains unclear.

It also said Thursday’s rescue by boat was organised by French energy major, Total, in coordination with the Mozambican government and the UN.

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