Mozambique conflict draws in neighboring countries
Jihadist insurgents variously calling themselves "al-Shabaab" or the "Islamic State Central Africa Province" (ISCAP) are fast escalating brutal attacks in Mozambique's oil-rich Cabo Delgado province, in the north of the country. In twin attacks Nov. 9, more than 50 residents were beheaded in Muatide village, where militants turned a football field into an "execution ground," while several more were beheaded and houses put to the torch in Nanjaba village.
On Oct. 14, hundreds of insurgents crossed the Ruvuma River into Tanzania, and attacked the border village of Kitaya, in Mtwara region, beheading 20 residents. They gathered villagers at gunpoint and harangued them before fingering several for summary execution and retreating back across the border.
Landlocked Zimbabwe, which depends on unimpeded passage through Mozambique for access to the sea, has broached military intervention. Defense Minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri said on the sidelines of a Zimbabwe Defense Forces planning conference in Nyanga: "We are really worried with the situation prevailing in Mozambique, particularly in the Cabo Delgado region. The situation is no longer affecting Mozambique only... and that is worrisome to Zimbabwe because Mozambique is our lifeline." She added that Zimbabwe is prepared to act with approval of the Southern African Development Community (SADC).
The conflcit in Mozambique has displaced more than 300,000 people and claimed more than 2,000 lives since it broke out in 2017. The Mozambican Armed Defense Forces are also accused of grave rights abuses in the conflict. International rights groups are calling for an investigation into a grisly incident caught on video in September, showing the apparent summary execution of an unarmed and naked woman by men wearing army uniforms. (BBC News, AllAfrica, Defense Post, AP, Mozambique News Agency, HRW, Trouble Spots)