HARARE, (The Southern African Times) – Mozambique’s Ministry of Defence on Thursday said troops had launched a counterattack to fight off rebels who attacked the town of Palma which is very close to gas projects worth billions of dollars.
The attack by the insurgents on Wednesday came in the wake of French oil giant Total announcing plans to resume construction at a nearby site of an offshore gas project worth $20 billion following the implementation of additional security measures.
A spokesman for the ministry, Omar Saranga, told journalists in the capital Maputo that the security forces (SDS) were pursuing the enemy and doing all they could 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.
Saranga added that the number of casualties and damages from the attack were yet to be determined. He, however, pointed out that mobile communications with the area had been “interrupted”.
Palma is situated in the gas-rich province of Cabo Delgado which has been grappling with a jihadist insurgency since 2017.
Militants affiliated to the Islamic State group have raided villages and towns across the province, causing resulting in at least 2,600 deaths and more than 350,000 others being displaced.
The violence has also seriously disrupted the development of Africa’s largest liquified natural gas (LNG) project off the Afungi peninsula, due to go online in 2024.
In January, Total was forced to evacuate some staff after insurgents launched several attacks just kilometres from the site.