Maputo (Agenzia Fides) - Change of strategy by ISIS-Mozambique? This is what one wonders after the latest attacks carried out by the jihadist group against military and government targets that spared the inhabitants of the affected areas in the province of Cabo Delgado (northern Mozambique).
The latest attack dates back to February 13 in the village of Nairoto, Montepuez district. The local barracks were targeted. The group, composed of at least 30-40 elements if not as many as 100, struck around midnight. The five soldiers died in the assault, while several others were wounded. The barracks were set on fire and several military vehicles were destroyed.
The attackers managed to take possession of weapons and ammunition and other equipment taken from the soldiers.
The fact that the local population was not vandalized is interpreted as a continuation of the new strategy of ISIS-Mozambique aimed at reconnecting with the local populations and spreading the idea that they are only fighting against the Mozambican military and security forces.
This is not to say that the jihadists' actions are not impacting the province's economy.
The assault on the village of Nairoto resulted in the evacuation of the Nairoto Resources Limitada (NRL) gold exploration camp whose workers were transported to the village of Montepuez.
Nairoto is approximately 83 kilometers north of Gemfields' (a company that holds 75 percent of NRL's shares) Montepuez ruby mine, which was not affected and remains operational.
Last October, Gemfields suspended operations in Montepuez for five days after an attack on a nearby mine was reported.
ISIS-Mozambique does not limit itself to attacking military targets, but any structure attributable to the state, such as hospitals.
Imitating the philosophy of the Nigerian group Boko Haram, the Mozambican insurgents are targeting locals stating that they do not want to harm them but reject anything that comes from the state, including state health and education facilities, urging them not to send their children to Western-style schools.
As a result, civilians continue to be greatly affected by jihadist actions if only indirectly due to the destruction of schools and health centres. According to a survey based on data from the Health Resources and Services Availability Monitoring System (HeRAMS), as of December 2022 in the province of Cabo Delgado out of 36 health facilities, 16 were completely destroyed and 13 partially damaged. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 16/2/2023)