Attacks in Niassa (Mozambique): Between Local Banditry and Terrorist Incursions

Attacks in Niassa (Mozambique): Between Local Banditry and Terrorist Incursions

[English translation from Portuguese]

In recent days, Niassa province has started to experience a new reality, with terrorist attacks, as police and government authorities assured, who attacked a safari vehicle, ambushed members of the police in the district of Mecula, where several people they would later abandon their homes and seek refuge in the main village and in the facilities of the Special Reserve of Niassa (REN).

However, there have been several reports that try to suggest that the terrorists are acting in various places in Niassa province, which is not an absolute truth, since, for some time now, Niassa province has been living strange criminal phenomena.

As an example, a few days ago, a women's savings cooperative in the district of Lagos would experience a situation of apparent assault on monetary values ​​and, as the remaining amounts were not found, they ended up burning down two houses. Data collected from police and civil sources indicate that, in Niassa, on the route from Muembe to Mavago, there are frequent armed robberies against citizens and properly identified traders.

As the sources assured, the modus operandi is the same as the alleged attack that took place in Muembe, which, according to police sources, was what happened on the said day of the act, since after the attacks that took place in Mecula, several FDS sub-units were deployed to ensure security in some vulnerable districts of the province and ended up facing yet another action by the criminals who, in their distress, chose to burn down around 15 homes and the case was attributed to the terrorist group.

On the same path, a few days ago, in the city of Lichinga, specifically in the Cerâmica neighborhood, a group of criminals invaded the residence of an agent of Law and Order who was on duty. Communicated about the situation, a PRM brigade moved in with the aim of detaining the criminals, which ended up having a strong firefight that lasted for a few hours, creating fear and insecurity in that neighborhood. At the time, some members of the group of criminals were captured by police authorities.

Therefore, data in our possession show that the issue of banditry and terrorism in Niassa province, specifically in the Mavago district, which is bordered by the Niassa Special Reserve (REN), has different narratives, since, according to sources in the mining sector , it is in this district that large amounts of gold and ruby ​​are found, which exceed the existing dimensions of Montepuez.

As we found out, the area in question, which is inside REN, is creating strong disputes among the national political and economic elites that intend to exploit the resources, a fact that may be motivating subversive groups that may practice acts of banditry and that then they can be associated with terrorism. However, the geographic reality of Niassa province is different from Cabo Delgado and other provinces, taking into account that the regions where such attacks have been reported are difficult to access, distant from each other and sparsely inhabited.

However, according to military sources, the terrorist group present in the forests of Mecula is around 20 to 30 men whose main leader, who in life went by the name of Maulana Ali Cassamo, was put out of action by the Defense and Security Forces (FDS ). According to the General Commander of the PRM, Bernardino Rafael, the terrorists will have arrived in Mecula via Mavago, where they previously had a strong fight with the Rapid Intervention Unit (UIR).