City Palma, Located a few kilometers northeast of a gas complex Mozambique, Fell into the hands of extremists Those who have been around him since Wednesday, security sources announced Saturday (27).
“Government forces withdrew from Palma as soon as the city was actually captured by extremist groups,” a source told AFP.
Another source confirmed that the rebels had taken control of the city, but said fighting was continuing in the area.
The city is about 10 kilometers from a large gas extraction plant owned by a French group called Total. The Muslim population of the province of Cabo Delgado owns rich gas fields and has experienced an extremist uprising for more than three years.
Palma has a population of 75,000. Thousands of people took refuge in neighboring villages and fled the area. The militant groups have been very clever in recent months, but on Wednesday they launched a major offensive, announcing the resumption of work on the Total site on the same day, with operations scheduled to begin in 2024.
Tonight the multinational announced that it has resumed its operations: for overall security reasons, it has decided to “reduce staff to a minimum” on campus, it said in a statement. The French company is the main investor in the project with a 26.5% stake. Six other international groups are involved, including the Italian Eni and the American ExxonMobil.
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The government confirmed the attack and assured that security forces had launched an offensive to expel the militants from the city, but no official statement has been released on what has been going on in the city since Thursday.
“Almost the entire city has been destroyed. Many have died,” a gas plant worker said by phone.
Officials from the NGO Human Rights Watch said they were quoting witnesses There were “corpses in the streets”.
The clashes forced the evacuation of 200 people, including foreigners, from a hotel where they had been refugees since Wednesday.
Some foreign workers died in ambush during a rescue operation launched by the military, security forces and survivors.
The details of the hotel’s Palma pickup operation are unclear and telephone contacts with the region closest to Tanzania are very dangerous.
Palma is located 1,800 km northeast of Maputo. Since 2017, extremists known as al-Shabab (“The Men”, in Arabic), who have vowed allegiance to the Islamic State, have looted villages and towns in the provinces, leaving 700,000 people stranded. UN
In the last few months, due to the military response, the attacks have lost intensity, according to some sources.
The violence killed at least 2,600 people in the province, half of them civilians, according to the American charity ACLED.