Mozambique: AU calls for “urgent” action after jihadist attack

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Addis Ababa | The African Union (AU) calls for “urgent regional and international action” after the jihadist attack in the city of Palma, in northern Mozambique, which left tens of people dead and thousands displaced.

Expressing his “greatest concern” at the “threat” posed by terrorist groups present in southern Africa, the chairman of the commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, called for “urgent regional and international action”.

He said the AU is “ready to support the region and its mechanisms to jointly address this urgent threat,” in a statement released Wednesday evening.

A week ago, armed groups attacked the strategic city of 75,000 inhabitants. The raid, which took place just a few kilometers from a multi-billion mega gas project piloted by the French group Total, was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group.

On Wednesday, the Mozambican army launched an offensive to try to retake the city taken by the rebels on the night of Friday to Saturday.

Armed groups, known locally as Al-Shabab (“the youth” in Arabic), have ravaged the poor but gas-rich province of Cabo Delgado, bordering Tanzania, for more than three years.

The AU “condemns in the strongest terms the terrorist attacks in the Cabo Delgado region and in particular the recent violence” in Palma, according to the statement.

Thousands of people were forced to flee after the latest attack. In one week, 8,100 people arrived in surrounding districts, according to the UN.

Violence in the region is at the origin of a humanitarian crisis, which risks further worsening, with more than 670,000 people forced to leave their homes, according to the United Nations. The NGO Acled already recorded 2,600 dead before the attack on Palma, half of whom were civilians.