Tanzanian jihadists 'killed' in Mozambique offensive

Jose Tembe

BBC News, Maputo

a main road in Macomia in Mozambique
Getty Images
Macomia is a strategic town in Mozambique's northern Cabo Delgado province

Mozambique's government says 78 Islamist insurgents have been killed in fighting with the security forces over the past few days.

The army launched an offensive after the jihadists seized Macomia in the north of the country, the third town to be overrun by the militants in recent months.

Defence Minister Jaime Neto said two ringleaders were killed, both of them Tanzanians.

There has been no word so far on civilian or military deaths.

The militants, known locally as al-Shabab, have killed hundreds of people since they launched their insurgency three years ago.

It is not clear whether it has any links to the Somali group of the same name, but recent attacks have been claimed by the Islamic State group.

Earlier this year two towns - Mocimboa da Praia and Quissanga - were temporarily seized by militants.

Mozambique militants 'spotted wearing army uniforms'

Jose Tembe

BBC News, Maputo

Soldiers in northern Mozambique
Getty Images
The military have been struggling to contain the militants

Mozambique’s interior minister says Islamist militants carrying out attacks in the north have been wearing regular army uniforms and using drones to identify their targets.

Describing them as terrorist groups, Amade Miquidade told parliament they were melting back into the community and were being sheltered by families after carrying out attacks.

The minister however said the military had made inroads in the fight against the Islamist militants.

The militant group is known locally as al-Shabab. It is not clear whether it has any links to the Somali group of the same name.

Last weekend, South Africa said it was discussing how it could help Mozambique end the violence.

Since 2017, around 600 people have been killed in attacks blamed on Islamist militants.

Read more:

Mozambicans drown in attempt to escape gunmen attacking island

Boats on shore in Quirimbas national park, Mozambique
Getty Images
People drowned in the sea as they were trying to get away from the attack on the Quirimbas islands

There are reports of another attack by Islamist militants in northern Mozambique's gas-rich Cabo Delgado province.

The jihadists took small boats from the mainland to attack one of the Quirimbas islands.

Some of the victims drowned in the sea as they tried to get away from the gunmen who then destroyed homes, schools and health centres.

The authorities have said nothing about the attack.

Mozambique map

Last week, Mozambique's police force said it had no information about another series of raids in Muidumbe district that are reported to have left more than 50 people dead.

Until recently little had been known about those behind the violence.

But the Islamic State group has said it was behind some of the attacks and has uploaded videos of gunmen addressing rallies in towns and villages where their black-and-white flags were flying.

The growing insecurity in Mozambique has left at least 700 people dead and more than 200,000 displaced since 2017.