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The city of Palma, in northeast Mozambique, is being evacuated after the terrorist attack that started on Wednesday March 24. The jihadists of the Al-Shabab group, affiliated with the Islamic State group, had taken control of this city of 75,000 inhabitants in the province of Cabo Delgado. The Mozambican security forces are now there and confront " <em>terrorist pockets</em> According to the latest national television bulletin. Testimonies show several victims, but no official report has yet been communicated. </p><div> <p><span><span><em>With our correspondent in the region</em>, <strong>Romain Song</strong></span></span>
On the lawn of a hotel in Palma, employees wrote SOS in capital letters. About twenty will be rescued, but research is still underway. Fleeing the fighting, many residents dispersed on foot and hid in the vegetation making their location difficult.
« A colleague walked 150 km », Tells us the owner of a hotel.
The lack of telecommunications since the attack began on Wednesday has further slowed the search. Many foreigners are present in the area. They work on the site of a huge gas project operated by Total, located just ten kilometers from the city of Palma.
« They have been targeted and this is the first time », Says a Christian missionary more accustomed to the exactions of the Al-Shabab group against the villagers.
Foreign workers from Palma are exfiltrated by boat to the town of Pemba, 400 km south of the besieged locality. The fate of the thousands of refugees who made up part of the population of Palma is not known, nor the number of victims. Since the start of the terrorist attacks in 2017, the conflict has left more than 600 000 displaced and 2 600 dead.
</div><div class="m-em-textbox m-em-textbox--corner"> <div class="m-em-textbox__body"><span><span><span><span><span><span>Paralyzed for several months, the gas project piloted by the French Total was to resume last Thursday, but the attack, of great magnitude, launched by the Al-Shabab group on the city of Palma, ten kilometers from the gas site, comes to put a new stoppage at the site. He had been suspended for the first time, last January, already following jihadist incursions and the staff had just returned to the scene. </span></span></span></span></span></span>
Today, Total is repatriating most of its employees from the Afungi site to Maputo, leaving only the bare minimum there, according to a statement. In recent months, Mozambique had announced on several occasions to conduct operations to secure the region, in order to reassure the French industrialist.
The project, jointly developed by Total, the Italian ENI and the American Exxon Mobil, is considered vital for the Mozambican economy. It weighs 60 billion dollars and aims to make the country a world gas power, within a few years. Total must in particular build with its partners a gas liquefaction plant and a port. The project was due to begin to emerge in 2024 but the deterioration of the security situation risks causing significant delays.