sunny.png
Friday September 24th, 2021 4:33PM

Rebels besiege town in northern Mozambique for fifth day

By The Associated Press

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — Rebels fought the Mozambican army Sunday for the fifth straight day for control of the strategic northern town of Palma, as reports came in that dozens of civilians have been killed and bodies were littering the streets. The fate of scores of foreign energy workers was also unknown.

Some of the dead had been beheaded, according to Human Rights Watch. An attempt by expatriate workers to flee to safety came under heavy fire, causing many deaths, according to local reports.

The battle for Palma highlights the military and humanitarian crisis in this Southern African nation on the Indian Ocean. The three-year insurgency of the rebels, who are primarily disaffected young Muslim men, in the northern Cabo Delgado province has taken more than 2,600 lives and displaced an estimated 670,000 people, according to the U.N.

The attacks in Palma started Wednesday just hours after the French energy company Total announced that it would resume work outside the town on its huge natural gas project at Afungi, near Mozambique’s northeastern border with Tanzania. Earlier rebel attacks prompted Total in January to suspend work on the project to extract gas from offshore sites.

The Mozambican army has been fighting the rebels in several locations to regain control of Palma, Col. Omar Saranga, a Ministry of Defense spokesman, said Sunday in the capital of Maputo.

Hundreds of Palma residents, both local and foreign, have been rescued, he said, adding that the defense forces are battling “to contain the criminal attacks of terrorists and restore normality in Palma.”

Most communications in recent days with Palma and the surrounding area have been cut off by the insurgents, although some residents got messages out using satellite phones.

“(They said) they had seen bodies lying on the streets, that the sound of gunfire was ongoing. In fact, gunfire was recorded on the background as we spoke with them. And they were telling us that they were running for safety,” Zenaida Machado, the Human Rights Watch representative in Mozambique, told The Associated Press.

Many Palma residents ran into the dense tropical forest surrounding the town to escape the violence. But a few hundred foreign workers from South Africa, Britain and France clustered at hotels that quickly became targets for the rebel attacks.

An estimated 200 Mozambicans and foreign workers sheltered at the Hotel Amarula. On Friday, a band of them in 17 vehicles drove together to the beach, where they hoped to be rescued, but the convoy came under heavy fire. Only 7 vehicles reached the beach, according to local reports and messages sent by survivors.

Seven people in the convoy had been killed, the military spokesman confirmed Sunday.

The beach remained under insurgent fire, preventing rescue efforts from air or sea, according to the reports. The Hotel Amarula remained under attack and it's not known what happened to those in the 10 vehicles that did not reach the coast.

A ship that left Palma earlier carrying hundreds of people arrived Sunday in Pemba, the provincial capital about 100 miles south.

The fresh rebel violence brings into question the fate of Total's gas project, one of Africa’s biggest private investments. Total paid nearly $4 billion for a 26.5% stake in the project in 2019. It had planned to start gas shipments in 2024 but the deteriorating security situation has made that goal unlikely.

Total issued a statement Saturday saying due to the latest rebel attack it had “obviously” suspended all its operations in the Afungi peninsula. It said none of its staff at the Afungi site were victims of the attack.

“Total expresses its sympathy and support to the people of Palma, to the relatives of the victims and those affected by the tragic events of the past days,” said the statement. “Total trusts the government of Mozambique whose public security forces are currently working to take back the control of the area.”

Mozambique's rebels already hold the port town of Mocimboa da Praia, 50 kilometers (31 miles) south of Palma, which they captured in August.

Mozambique's insurgents are known locally as al-Shabab, although they do not have any known connection to Somalia's jihadist rebels of that name. The rebels have been active in Cabo Delgado province since 2017 but their attacks became much more frequent and deadly in the past year.

___

AP journalist Tom Bowker in Uzes, France, contributed.

___

This story has been corrected to show that the convoy of 17 vehicles left the Hotel Amarula on Friday, not Saturday.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News, AP Business, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Utilities
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Rebels besiege town in northern Mozambique for fifth day
Fighting raged for the fifth day in northern Mozambique as rebels fought the army for control of the strategic town of Palma
12:00PM ( 4 minutes ago )
New York lawmakers agree to legalize recreational marijuana
New York lawmakers have finalized an agreement to legalize recreational marijuana sales to adults over the age of 21
11:54AM ( 10 minutes ago )
UK eases lockdown but nervously eyes European virus surge
Britain is taking another small step out of lockdown as it looks nervously at a new virus surge inundating its European neighbors
11:47AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
UK variant hunters lead global race to stay ahead of COVID
Even when the U.K. had just a few dozen confirmed cases of COVID-19, professor Sharon Peacock recognized that the country needed to expand its capacity to analyze the genetic makeup of the virus
10:46AM ( 1 hour ago )
Jurors in ex-officer's high-profile trial face heavy burden
The huge task for jurors at the trial of a white former police officer charged in the death of George Floyd showed during jury selection as some would-be jurors said they were unnerved by the very thought of being on the panel
10:39AM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Romanian woman, 104: Vaccine is only solution
A 104-year-old Romanian woman has received her second vaccine against COVID-19, becoming the oldest person in Bucharest to be fully inoculated against the disease
10:18AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
Myanmar protests continue a day after more than 100 killed
Protesters against last month’s military seizure of power in Myanmar have returned to the streets to press their demands for a return to democracy, just a day after security forces shot dead more than 100 of their countrymen in the bloodiest day since last month’s military coup
5:33AM ( 6 hours ago )
Longest-serving bookseller among 25,000 Czech virus victims
A year after the Czech Republic recorded its first death from the coronavirus, the central European nation paused this week to remember all the citizens who lost their lives in the pandemic
4:39AM ( 7 hours ago )
Suicide bomber targets Mass in Indonesia, 14 wounded
Indonesian police say a suicide bomber blew himself up outside a packed Roman Catholic cathedral on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island during a Palm Sunday Mass, wounding at least 14 people
3:21AM ( 8 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
The Latest: Albania starts mass COVID-19 vaccinations
Albania has started a mass inoculation campaign ahead of the summer tourism season after acquiring 192,000 doses of Chinese coronavirus vaccine Sinovac earlier this week
7:51AM ( 4 hours ago )
Albania starts mass COVID vaccinations before tourist season
Albania has started a mass inoculation campaign ahead of the summer tourism season after acquiring 192,000 doses of Chinese coronavirus vaccine Sinovac earlier this week
7:46AM ( 4 hours ago )
Pope on pandemic's second year: Weariness, economic hardship
For a second time in the pandemic, Pope Francis is leading Holy Week ceremonies without the usual crowds of pilgrims and tourists
7:30AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP World News
China sanctions US, Canadian officials over Xinjiang
China has announced new sanctions against U.S. and Canadian officials in a growing political and economic feud over its policies in the traditionally Muslim region of Xinjiang
11:38PM ( 12 hours ago )
Marijuana takes center stage in New Mexico special session
New Mexico lawmakers are embarking on an unusual legislative session that focuses on the legalization of recreational marijuana
8:38PM ( 15 hours ago )
NCAA Board of Governors chair expresses confidence in Emmert
The chairman of the NCAA’s Board of Governors has given President Mark Emmert a vote of confidence
6:24PM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Business
Suez Canal remains blocked amid efforts to free stuck vessel
Authorities are preparing to make new attempts to free a giant container vessel stuck in Egypt's Suez Canal for a fifth day and reopen a crucial east-west waterway for global shipping
4:10AM ( 1 day ago )
Plan made to refloat ship blocking Suez Canal using tide
The company that owns the giant container ship stuck sideways in the Suez Canal says there will be an attempt to refloat it by taking advantage of the tide later Saturday
8:43PM ( 1 day ago )
Plan made to refloat ship blocking Suez Canal with high tide
The company that owns the giant container ship stuck sideways in the Suez Canal says there will be an attempt to refloat it by taking advantage of the high tide later Saturday
8:15PM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Industries
Putin hails Russian military's performance in Arctic drills
Russian President Vladimir Putin has hailed the military’s performance during recent Arctic drills, part of Moscow’s efforts to expand its presence in the polar region
12:54PM ( 1 day ago )
Yemen rebels hit, set ablaze fuel tank in south Saudi Arabia
A fuel tank at an oil facility in Saudi Arabia caught fire after being struck in an attack claimed by Yemen's Houthi rebels
6:17AM ( 2 days ago )
Egypt races to dislodge giant vessel blocking Suez Canal
A giant container ship remains stuck sideways in Egypt’s Suez Canal
6:13AM ( 2 days ago )
AP Business - Utilities
New York lawmakers agree to legalize recreational marijuana
New York lawmakers have finalized an agreement to legalize recreational marijuana sales to adults over the age of 21
11:54AM ( 10 minutes ago )
UK eases lockdown but nervously eyes European virus surge
Britain is taking another small step out of lockdown as it looks nervously at a new virus surge inundating its European neighbors
11:47AM ( 17 minutes ago )
Expelled from US at night, migrant families weigh next steps
In one of Mexico’s most notorious cities for organized crime, migrants are expelled from the United States throughout the night
11:41AM ( 23 minutes ago )
Suicide bomb hits Palm Sunday Mass in Indonesia, 20 wounded
Two attackers believed to be members of a militant network that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State group have blown themselves up outside a packed Roman Catholic cathedral during a Palm Sunday Mass on Indonesia’s Sulawesi island, wounding at least 20 people
11:39AM ( 25 minutes ago )
2 tugboats speed to Egypt's Suez Canal as shippers avoid it
Two additional tugboats are speeding to Egypt’s Suez Canal to aid efforts to free a skyscraper-sized container ship wedged for days across the crucial waterway
11:14AM ( 50 minutes ago )