UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, is boosting its response in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province, where a recent escalation of violence has forced thousands to flee for their lives. At least 100,000 people are now displaced throughout the province. There has been a dramatic increase of brutal attacks by armed groups, with recent weeks being the most volatile period since the outbreak began in October 2017. Bands of gunmen have been targeting local villages and terrorizing the populace. Those fleeing report random killings, maiming and torture, torched homes and shops, and crops burned in the fields. There have been reports of beheadings, kidnappings and disappearances of women and children.
Over the past days, five villages in Quissanga district were attacked. In Mahate village, the local health center was burned down, and seven residents beheaded after being waylaid while walking to work in their fields.
Jasmine Opperman, South Africa-based analyst with the UK monitoring group Islamic Theology of Counter Terrorism, says that at least 20 of the Cabo Delgado attacks have been claimed in the name of the Islamic State. The Mozambique Defense Armed Forces has reportedly contracted Russian mercenaries from the Wagner Group to battle the insurgency. (ReliefWeb, AllAfrica, Irish Times)