Mozambique, terror and crisis, the government responds

Flag of Mozambique Flag of Mozambique Photo by Jorono on Pixabay

22 November 2021

Since 2017, militants have been terrorizing the Cabo Delgado region, causing the destruction of villages and pushing the conflict onto the global stage.

Mozambique is located on the east coast of southern Africa, bordering six different countries. Hence, the continued terrorist threat throughout the region has the potential to destabilize a significant part of the continent.

The war officially started on 5 October 2017 in Mocímboa da Praia, a port town in northern Mozambique, with assaults against police stations. Due to the high rates of unemployment and extreme poverty Cabo Delgado is perceived as an easy target, which has led to a group of insurgents carrying out numerous attacks, including abductions, burning of houses, and beheadings.

Since 2017, the militants have caused an unknown number of deaths and forced more than 700,000 people to flee. Some people who escaped from captivity reported to the BBC that when women are kidnapped and taken to Mocímboa, they are treated like slaves and forced to marry the al-Shababs.

The insurgents affiliate with a radical Islamist cause. Yet, their connection with the Islamic State group (ISIS) and other international terrorist groups is still unclear. Unlike the latter, they have largely avoided contact with the press, mostly acting at a local level.

Following the attacks, the government has restructured the Defence Department and introduced a special force of elite soldiers to tackle terrorism. According to the Organization for World Peace (OWP), however, the origins of the conflict should be sought in the failure of the Mozambique government to take into account people’s concerns, not a lack of military intervention.

Although violence and terrorism are never tolerable ways of achieving social or political goals, a purely military approach by the government cannot resolve the underlying political and social issues that led to the terrorist group taking hold in the region. If the government wants to stop terrorism, other strategies need to be adopted, and urgently.




Author: Antonella Candiago; Editor: Xavier Atkins

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