Call for more coordinated military operations by foreign armies in Cabo Delgado

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People gather under a makeshift displacement shelter in Pemba after fleeing insurgency-hit Palma by boat.
People gather under a makeshift displacement shelter in Pemba after fleeing insurgency-hit Palma by boat.
  • Insurgents in Mozambique are now dispersing into small groups and moving into the southern districts.
  • Security forces recently killed 15 and captured five suspected insurgents. 
  • There is need to strengthen co-ordination among foreign forces present in Cabo Delgado, says Borges Nhamirre who is a researcher on Mozambican politics and governance.

A government situational report on the insurgency in Cabo Delgado, Mozambique, has revealed that just after midnight on 2 November, 15 individuals armed with an AK-47 and machetes raided homes in the village of Mahipa in the south. 

They made off with MZN300 000 (about R70 000) and an undisclosed amount of US dollars. 

A few hours later in the restricted fishing zone of Makalowe Island, 15 "fishermen" were killed by a Government Security Forces (GSF) maritime security patrol team. 

READ | About a million go hungry in Mozambique's Cabo Delgado due to insurgency

The report seen by News24 said the GSF arrived on the island in three boats and fired at 20 suspected insurgents. Five survived the attack and were captured. 

"For the last four months, there has been a restriction placed on naval vessels travelling between Pemba and Palma or entering the provinces near the shore area.

"This is done to prevent the possible resupply of remaining insurgent cells still active on the mainland. It is a known tactic used by the insurgents to disguise themselves as fishermen whenever they travel along the coast," read the report. 

The war is far from being won.

Speaking to News24 from Mozambique, Borges Nhamirre - a researcher on Mozambican politics and governance - said foreign troops helping in the crisis along with government forces should co-ordinate their operations. 

They are dealing with guerillas who fight and run. So, when say, Russians attack rebels they flee to another part of the province to regroup or even set up a base there. But when such a scenario happens, foreign forces working in the area where the rebels would have fled to are not aware that an operation was done and what the results are.

"Therefore, a complete wipeout of rebels is impossible unless all forces working in Cabo Delgado have a fluid communication system," he added. 

In a statement, the Institute of Security Studies (ISS) said "the insurgents are now dispersing into small groups and moving into the southern districts". 

Since 2017, private military companies have been in the province.

The Wagner Group from Russia arrived in September 2019 to fight and also for special operations combat training.

A total of 200 soldiers - including elite troops with three attack helicopters, drones and weapons - ended a three-month operation in November 2019. 

ALSO READ | Mozambique needs political solution to jihadist unrest, civic groups say

In came Dyck Advisor Group which is headquartered in South Africa.

The group provided aerial support, logistics and military advice from April 2020 to April 2021.

The group's 40 soldiers had six light helicopter gunships.

A South African private military company with Dubai links, the Paramount and Burnham Global consortium, is currently training soldiers and providing military equipment.

They have four Gazelle helicopters, two Mi-24 helicopters, one reconnaissance aircraft (Mwari) and 12 Marauder armoured vehicles. 

The latest policy report by the ISS noted Rwanda had more than 2 000 soldiers in Cabo Delgado, South African had sent 270 out of a planned 1 495, Angola only had 20 for aerial support and logistics, Botswana sent 296, Lesotho 70 and Tanzania 277.

Officially, Zimbabwe and Malawi each sent one military expert.

European Union countries late last month sent 140 trainers. 

They will train at least 2 000 Mozambican special forces soldiers in two groups: naval forces and commandos.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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