Senior Researcher at the Institute of Security Studies Liesl Louw-Vaudran says the regional leaders in Africa have allowed the situation in Mozambique to deteriorate over the last three years, which has resulted in many deaths and instability in the country.

In the latest incident, ISIS-linked fighters and disaffected locals are reported to have attacked the gas-rich town of Palma in Cabo Delgado, killing dozens of people including foreign workers.

There are reports that South Africans are among the fatalities.

Insurgent attacks in Palma, northern Mozambique:

A South African woman who works in Palma says her son is missing. “He’s missing. Choppers could not go and rescue him because they were shooting at the choppers from the ground. They tried today again, they landed at the site where they thought he would be. He’s no longer there. He’s still missing. He’s got no war experience, no fighting experience. So, the worst fear is you don’t know where they are, you don’t know if he safe. Is he alive? Has he been taken hostage?”

Palma is adjacent to gas projects worth close to R1 trillion that are led by international oil firms including Total.

Louw-Vaudran says the ISS has made numerous attempts to urge regional bodies – SADC and the African Union – to intervene.

“It really has been very frustrating for everyone who has been watching this situation rapidly in the last three years escalate. There have been so many attacks; brutal attacks and beheadings. We have written so many articles and have had webinars and meetings calling on SADC and the AU and SADC member states to take action even though it is a very complicated situation and this situation has been allowed to deteriorate.”

Institute of Security Studies concerned over growing insurgency in Mozambique:

A number of South Africans appear to have escaped an ambush, apparently by ISIS-linked fighters in Palma.

Reuters quotes security and diplomatic sources as saying at least one person was killed during the escape and a number were wounded.

Mozambique’s government had said that security forces were working to restore order in Palma. Many South Africans as well as people from other countries are employed at the massive gas facility.