Dozens of people were killed in coordinated jihadist attacks in northern Mozambique’s Palma town, the government said on Sunday, four days after the raid was launched and forced the evacuation of thousands of survivors to safety in the provincial capital Pemba.
Seven people were killed in an ambush during an operation to evacuate them from a hotel where they had sought refuge, it said.
“Last Wednesday, a group of terrorists sneaked into… Palma and launched actions that resulted in the cowardly murder of dozens of defenceless people,” defence ministry spokesman Omar Saranga told a news conference.
Foreigners were among those caught in the violence, but the government did not say how many foreign nationals were killed.
So far one South African is known to have died during the attack, his family confirmed to AFP. Adrian Nel had been holed up in the Amarula hotel with his father and brother for two days, his mother said.
As they were making their way to a convoy of cars that had come to evacuate them, Nel was shot dead, she said. His father had to carry his body until they were rescued. There’s no way to possibly describe what you feel when you get news like that,” Meryl Knox told AFP.
Martin Ewi, a senior researcher with the Pretoria-based think-tank, the Institute for Security Studies, said that “over 100″ people were still unaccounted for since the attack.
That’s what we know so far,” he said, but added that the situation on the ground was confusing
On Wednesday, an unknown number of militants began attacking Palma, a town of around 75,000 people in the province of Cabo Delgado that is home to a multi-billion-dollar gas project being built by France’s Total and other energy companies.
Human Rights Watch said the militants indiscriminately shot civilians in their homes and on the streets.
In the last three days, government security forces had prioritised “the rescue of hundreds of citizens, nationals and foreigners”, said Saranga, without giving a breakdown of the numbers.
In other news – Pearl Modiadie leaves Metro FM
Radio and TV presenter Pearl Modiadie and her co-host Thomas Msengana are leaving Metro FM.
The pair has added to the number of radio presenters who have hanged their headphones this month. Pearl announced her exit from Metro FM on Twitter. She said her last broadcast will be this coming Wednesday. Learn more