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Palma is now a ghost town after the large-scale attack carried out in recent days by fighters from a jihadist group affiliated with the Islamic State organization. The majority of its 75,000 inhabitants have fled the city. </p><div> <p>On Monday, authorities in Maputo organized a helicopter flight for journalists. In particular, a journalist from the Portuguese press agency was on board. The aircraft passed near Palma. The journalist describes a ghost town, deserted by its inhabitants.
According to an expert, jihadist fighters left the city, leaving only a few men behind to slow the advance of the Mozambican forces who would advance house by house. The displaced people continue to flow by the thousands into the surrounding towns, sometimes having traveled more than a hundred kilometers on foot. There is still no clear record regarding the number of victims.
United States and Portugal offer to help
After expressing their concerns about this situation in northern Mozambique, Portugal and the United States say they are ready to help Maputo. Statements that the two countries had already made. The Palma attack gives them the opportunity to reaffirm this cooperation and to clarify it in part.
Thus, Portugal announces the dispatch in the coming weeks of about sixty soldiers who will participate in the training of special forces. Two weeks ago, the US Army Africa Command, Africom, announced a two-month training program.
A few days earlier, on March 11, the United States had placed the Mozambican jihadist group on its list of terrorist organizations along with the ADF active in eastern DRC. Two groups from the continent who have sworn allegiance to the Islamic State to form a Central African branch of the organization.
A group of a few thousand people
As for the Mozambican group, the affiliation to IS dates from 2019, well after the emergence of the movement resulting from local grievances expressed by young people with very real religious demands. The movement has gathered momentum. He’s capable of leading very well-prepared attacks like Palma’s. Experts estimate its numbers at a few thousand people, combatants with nationals from other countries, but also women and children.
Faced with this movement, according to experts, the Mozambican army is divided, disorganized in an area, Cabo Delgado, strategic, because it brings together large foreign investors because of gas resources: in particular the French Total, the American Exxon Mobil and the Italian ENI.
Source site www.rfi.fr