Maputo — Mozambican and Rwandan forces on Sunday recaptured the port town of Mocimboa da Praia, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, which had been held by terrorists affiliated to the “Islamic State” (ISIS) network for the past year.
The Rwandan Defence Force (RDF) announced the victory over Twitter. Shortly afterwards, the RDF spokesperson, Col Ronald Rwivanga, told the AFP news agency that Mocimboa da Praia “was the last stronghold of the insurgents”. Its capture “marks the end of the first phase of counter-insurgency operations”.
“We will continue with security operations to completely pacify those areas,” Rwivanga added, hoping that displaced people will soon be able to return to their homes. The number of people displaced from their homes by terrorist raids in Cabo Delgado is now put at over 800,000.
Losing Mocimboa da Praia, said Rwivanga, “is going to be a significant blow to their ability to maintain the insurgency,”
He said there had been heavy fighting. “We are just waiting for the final count but generally speaking the enemy had many casualties,” he added.
Mocimboa da Praia was only district capital in ISIS hands. Its port and airport could be important in the logistics required for reviving the liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in the neighbouring district of Palma.
The project is in the hands of a consortium led by the French oil gas company Total Energies. Total withdrew all its staff, in the wake of a terrorist raid on Palma town on 24 March. The restoration of security in the area will be key for the resumption of the LNG project.