Jihadists have been besieging the Mozambican city of Palma since Wednesday, after energy company Total announced it would resume gas extraction. Residents take shelter in hotels and bank buildings. The energy company Total has evacuated at least a thousand employees from the area.
The gas-rich area in the north of Mozambique has long been the scene of violent conflict. Human Right Watch speaks of 2,600 deaths and 600,000 refugees in recent years.
Total would resume gas extraction after months on Wednesday, when jihadists opened fire. About 200 people sought shelter in a local hotel. They would later have been transferred to a heavily guarded gas installation, to which local residents had also fled.
An insider says that some fourteen hundred people have already been evacuated by ship. They go to the city of Pemba. The extremists are more likely to have attacked a moving convoy of people trying to flee the hotel. This resulted in an unknown number of deaths.
Witnesses report random shootings and bodies on the street
People in Palma are also being evacuated by air. The South African security company Dyck Advisory Group said on Saturday it had brought at least twenty people to safety with helicopters. Because mobile telephony has been disrupted, information about the situation in the city is only released slowly.
Human rights organization Human Rights Watch has previously called on authorities in the country, which borders South Africa, to protect civilians. The group says it has heard from witnesses that there are bodies on the street and that the attackers are shooting at random people and buildings.
The government has not provided any updates on the battle near the city since Thursday. The jihadist organization Al Shabaab, has been looting villages in northern Mozambique for years. The violence is estimated to have claimed the lives of around 2,600 people, including many civilians. Hundreds of thousands of people have also fled.
Source site www.nu.nl