An armed group attacked the northern Mozambique town closest to gas projects worth some $60bn on Wednesday, striking ever closer to developments that have already stalled over security problems.
The attack on the town of Palma – less than 25km (15 miles) by road from a construction camp for the gas developments led by oil majors such as Total – happened the same day the French company announced it would gradually resume work at the site after suspending it because of nearby attacks.
Mozambique’s northern-most province of Cabo Delgado has since 2017 been home to a festering armed uprising on the projects’ doorstep, which has escalated in the past year as fighters linked to ISIL (ISIS) began taking on the army to seize entire towns.
Portuguese state news agency Lusa first reported the attack, which Reuters news agency said was confirmed by a security source and another person familiar with the matter.
Several security sources, who requested anonymity, told the AFP news agency that Palma was under siege.
One military commander based in the capital Maputo said two groups of “militants” concomitantly attacked a police checkpoint and residential neighbourhoods.
“Total and the government of Mozambique have worked together to define and implement an action plan” to reinforce the security of the Afungi site and the surrounding area, the company said in a statement.Meet Britain’s Financial Freedom AdvisorAd by mannymediallc.com See More
Initially known for beheadings, the armed group has in the past year managed to take control of entire towns, including one, Mocimboa da Praia, used as a transit point for goods and workers related to the gas developments.