Mozambique’s security forces have launched an offensive to expel Jihadist militants from a town in the strife-torn northern Cabo Delgado province, the Ministry of Defence announced on Thursday.
Ministry spokesperson Omar Saranga told reporters in the capital Maputo that Mozambique’s Defence and Security Forces (SDS) were trying to reclaim the coastal town of Palma which was overrun by insurgents on Wednesday.
He said government troops were “pursuing the enemy’s movement” and working “tirelessly to restore security and order”.
“SDS will do everything to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the population... while continuing to guarantee the protection of economic projects,"Saranga said.
Foreign contractors working on Africa’s biggest gas project are trapped in their hotel in northern Mozambique after militants aligned with Islamic State overran the town serving the site.
Jihadist militants raided the coastal town on Wednesday afternoon, forcing terrified residents to flee into surrounding forest.
The attack came shortly after French oil major Total announced plans to resume construction of a US$20-billion offshore gas project near the town.
The insurgency, which began in 2017 and has engulfed the far north of the country, has so far killed more than 2,600 people over the past four years.