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180 people trapped in a hotel by a jihadist attack

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                About 180 people, including expatriate workers, have been trapped in a hotel for three days in Palma, Mozambique, in a jihadist attack launched Wednesday afternoon in this area which is home to a huge gas project in which the Total group is the main investor. 
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                                    <p>About 180 people, including expatriate workers, have been trapped in a hotel for three days in Palma, Mozambique, in a jihadist attack, workers and security sources said on Friday (March 26th).  The government confirmed the attack and specified that the security forces (SDS) had launched an offensive to drive out the rebels.

The army was trying to evacuate the workers by air to a safer perimeter from this area which is home to a mega-gas project in which the French group Total is participating, according to the workers concerned.

Jihadists launched their attack on Wednesday afternoon, forcing terrified residents to seek shelter in the surrounding forest and workers to take refuge in the Amarula hotel, located in the north of the city.

Total, main investor in the project

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This attack came on the day the French giant announced the resumption of construction work on the gas site, which should be operational in 2024. Total is the main investor in the project, with a 26.5% stake. Six other international groups are involved in this project, including the Italian Eni and the American ExxonMobil.

“Almost the whole city has been destroyed. A lot of people have died,” a worker said by phone Friday after being evacuated. He did not give details of the victims and their nationality.

Another person working for a company associated with energy giant Total said helicopters flew over the hotel on Friday trying to find “a corridor to evacuate some 180 people trapped in the hotel.” “But at nightfall many people are trapped there as the rebels advance towards the hotel,” she added.

In a brief video clip posted on social media, which could not be verified, an unidentified person filmed the hotel lobby showing several people gathered on the terrace. The engine of a helicopter is heard as she describes the situation in Palma as “critical”. “We don’t know if we are going to be saved,” said this person, adding that the hotel was running out of food but there was still water.

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Palma is located more than 1,800 km northeast of Maputo in the gas-rich province of Cabo Delgado, where authorities have faced a violent insurgency since 2017. Armed jihadists, known as Al Shabab ( “young people” in Arabic) and who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) group in 2019, have been carrying out bloody attacks there for more than three years. The attacks had nevertheless weakened in recent months, a lull attributed to the military response.

The conflict has left at least 2,600 dead, more than half of them civilians, according to the NGO Acled, and forced more than 670,000 people to leave their homes, according to the UN.

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Source site www.france24.com

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