Officials say Palma is ‘under state control’ after being attacked by ISIL-linked fighters, but experts are skeptical.
The town in northern Mozambique that was attacked by ISIS-linked militants late last month is now safe after killing the army. Significant numbers Army spokesman and a provincial official.
Commander Chongo Vidigal, the leader of the military operation to regain control of Palmer, told state television TVM on Monday that the area was now “safe”, although he declined to announce that the army had regained full control.
“We just needed to clear the airfield area and we did it this morning. It’s completely safe, “said Bidigal.
Armando Nangunga, secretary of the province of Cabo delgado, told Reuters on Monday that the town of Palma was “under state control.”
“Human lives have been significantly damaged, infrastructure has been destroyed. But people are safe now, ”Nangunga added.
On March 24, fighters attacked the coastal town of Palma, near the 60 60 billion natural gas project that was intended to transform Mozambique’s economy.
The government of Mozambique said Dozens were killed in the attack, And security sources said clashes continued outside the city as of Friday.
According to an initial government estimate, thousands of people have fled leaving about 75,000 people. The United Nations says more than 11,000 civilians have fled Palma in recent days.
Reuters could not independently verify the accounts from Palma. Most means of communication with the city were cut off after the attack began.
Footage taken by TVM in Palma shows a soldier lying on the street and burning buildings
Bidigal said the facilities of French power company Total were secured near Palmer, a source told Reuters on Friday, adding that Total had withdrawn all personnel as fighters advanced.
“The facilities are safe, they are safe,” he said.
A total spokesman and Mozambique’s defense ministry did not respond to requests for comment Monday.
Fighters involved with ISIL have been increasingly active in Cabo Delgado since 2017, although it is still unclear whether they have a unified goal.
Aid groups believe the latest attack displaced thousands of people, many of whom fled into dense jungles or fled by boat. However, the extent of death and displacement is still unclear and many remain unaccounted for.
Survivors try to escape and find the bodies of others who have died of hunger or dehydration.
Thousands of people have been evacuated to Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado, which has already expanded into a city that has been rocked by violence in the past as well as clashes with displaced people in 2019.
‘Pocket’ for protection only
Several experts have expressed doubts about the authorities’ demand for Palma’s return.
“Pockets may be safe but they are certainly not out of control,” Willem Els, senior training coordinator at the Institute for Security Studies based in South Africa, told AFP. “
“The rebels are still roaming around,” he warned, citing sources on the ground. “The only enclave that is really safe at the moment is the area around Afungi.”
Dyke Advisory Group (DAG), a South African non-governmental military organization, has provided assistance to the security forces, but its agreement with the government expires this week.
On Tuesday, Dag founder Lionel Dyke confirmed their involvement.
On Monday, he told AFP via WhatsApp, “God help the people,” adding that troops were unlikely to capture Palma.