SADC moot regional action for Mozambique unrest

Mozambique soldiers patrol the northern town of Mocimboa da Praia, which has been reportedly taken over by jihadists. AFP/File/ADRIEN BARBIER

At least 2,000 people have died and half a million have fled their homes since a shadowy jihadist group began attacks in October 2017.

Leaders from southern African countries met for urgent security talks on Friday and agreed on a “regional response” to the Islamist insurgency ravaging parts of northern Mozambique.

Five presidents conferred for an extraordinary summit in the Botswana capital Gaborone from where they “directed the finalization of a comprehensive regional response” to the unrest in Mozambique.

They did not elaborate on what kind of response they were considering.

Islamist militants terrorising the province for three years have in recent months accelerated their campaign to create a caliphate in the gas-rich region.

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In a statement the leaders who met under the aegis of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) “noted with concern, the acts of terrorism in the region, particularly in Cabo Delgado province”.

At least 2,000 people have died and half a million have fled their homes since a shadowy jihadist group began attacks in October 2017.

The presidents of Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo, Malawi, South Africa, Zimbabwe attended the talks.

Tanzania was represented by its vice president while Mozambique sent in its defence minister.

Last week Tanzania and Mozambique signed an agreement to join forces to fight the jihadists.

Locally they are known as Al-Shabab, although they have no known links to the ruthless Ismalist group of that name operating in Somalia.

Their attacks have increasingly been claimed by the Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP), affiliated with the Islamic State group.

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