Islamist insurgents on Wednesday captured a second town within 48 hours in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province on Wednesday, prompting fears that they are gaining a foothold in the area and could jeopardise the huge natural gas industry that is poised to take off there.
On Wednesday they attacked the district capital of Quissanga, defeating security forces and causing residents to flee. This followed their successful assault by land and sea on Monday on the strategic port town of Mocimboa da Praia which they held for most of the day.
This port town is just 60km south of liquid gas installations under construction on the Afungi peninsula. The risk analysis firm Control Risks said in a report that it did not believe the jihadists would yet venture an attack on Afungi because of the significant military presence there. But it added that “other commercial operations across these districts are likely to pose attractive targets to the group”.
Some reports on the attack on Mocimboa da Praia – the biggest military operation in the 30 months of the insurgency – said the fighters had destroyed barges which oil and gas corporations had been using to offload equipment at the port for the construction of the gas facilities.