The SADC Troika will hold an urgent meeting next week to discuss the current situation in Mozambique. The meeting of the regional bloc’s organ on Politics Defence and Security follows an armed militant group’s attack last Wednesday on the Mozambican town of Palma in the northern Cabo Delgado province bordering Tanzania.

South Africa’s Defence Department says the more than 50 nationals that were reported missing have now been accounted for. One South African was among those that were killed.

President Cyril Ramaphosa confirmed that members of SANDF had been dispatched to Mozambique to secure the safety of South Africans:

SABC Foreign Editor Sophie Mokoena gives more insight:

“South Africa would wait for the regional body, as a meeting has now been convened to get a directive from the regional body before it can deploy any troops. They must inform the South African Parliament. Therefore it is not the deployment of troops. It’s just specialised expertise from the Defense Force to support the High Commission as it provides consular assistance to those who are stuck there,” says Mokoena.

Survivors reach port of Pemba

A boat carrying 1 200 survivors of a deadly attack by Islamic State-linked insurgents in northern Mozambique reached safety in the port of Pemba on Thursday, some of them crying on arrival after spending days hiding in the bush.

Aid workers were at the crowded port to give food to those disembarking from the green and white ferry, while police and soldiers kept control of crowds of people excited to see relatives rescued during the attack that began last week in Palma, a Reuters reporter at the port said.

Many people were believed to have scattered into dense forest or to have attempted to escape by boat, aid workers said.

An emotional Mariamo Tagir, who arrived on the ferry, told Reuters TV that she had spent seven days in the bush, crying every day.

“I don’t know where my son is. It’s very painful,” said Tagir. “The situation is really bad, many dead.”

Total withdraws staff from gas site

 French energy major Total has withdrawn all its staff from its Afungi natural gas site in northern Mozambique, two sources said on Friday.

The company, which last week called off the planned resumption of construction at the $20 billion development due to the violence, declined to comment when contacted by Reuters.

The two sources, who have direct knowledge of Total’s operations, said the company decided to withdraw its staff as militants appeared to get closer to the site. They declined to go into further details.

Insurgents took over some Mozambican military positions near the Afungi site south of Palma on Friday and the situation was still highly volatile, a separate security source told Reuters.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said it was temporarily suspending evacuation flights from Palma for people affected by the violence, citing a deterioration in the security situation. Flights transporting humanitarian workers and food would continue, a spokeswoman added.

Mozambique’s defence ministry did not respond to a request for comment.

A spokesman for Mozambique’s military was quoted by a local radio station as saying the Afungi site was beyond the reach of the militants.

“It is protected, … at no time was its integrity at stake,” Radio Mozambique cited army spokesman Chongo Vidigal as saying. The radio station added in its report published late on Thursday that the area around the Total project was being patrolled day and night to repel any threat.

additional reporting by Reuters