Southern Africa Director at Human Rights Watch (HRW), Dewa Mavhinga says the attacks in Palma, in the Cabo Delgado province in Mozambique, indicate that authorities have been underprepared and given insufficient priority to the incidents.
Mavhinga says that there have been other attacks that have been happening in other towns.
A number of South Africans appear to have escaped an ambush.
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, which is adjacent to gas projects worth close to R1 trillion after it came under a three-pronged attack on Wednesday.
Many South Africans, as well as, people from other countries are employed at the massive gas facility.
“Generally, there hasn’t been priority given to these attacks, and to the security situation in Cabo Delgado because this has been happening in different towns and in fact just before these attacks in Cabo there was a sense that Cabo was secure and safe and it seemed that this daring and audacious attack was a way of sending out a statement of the capacity of this group to disrupt and cause mass damage. The killings and the shootings recorded have been indiscriminate in a way and the unlawful targeting of civilians so it’s a clear sign that this is escalating, it’s not getting better. Perhaps Mozambican authorities have been underprepared and given insufficient priority to this urgent crisis,” says Mavhinga.
Mavhinga says witnesses have confirmed that this attack was carried out by Al-Shabaab.
“According to the witnesses that we spoke to, yes it was indeed Al-Shabaab and it is possible that it could involve other groups who are affiliated to the Islamic state. What we know is that not enough is known about this group, their motives, and what they are doing there. But it is clear for those we spoke who were fleeing they identified and said it was indeed a group locally known as Al-Shabaab.”
Human Rights Watch has urged Mozambique authorities to take urgent measures to protect civilians fleeing an armed group in the town of Palma.
Southern Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, Dewa Mavhinga spoke to SABC News
President Cyril Ramaphosa has been meeting with the security cluster amid reports that South Africans are among those killed in fighting around the gas hub town of Palma.
The Institute of Security Studies has also raised concerns over the growing insurgency in northern Mozambique. Liesel Louw Vaudran is a senior researcher at the ISS.
She says they have been worried since the attacks began some three years ago: