The Mozambican Defense and Security Forces (SDS) have taken “completely” control of the village of Palma, said on Sunday, the spokesman for the Operational Theater North.
Palma “is completely [tomada pelas Forças de Defesa e Segurança]. Today we concluded the clarification of the only area that still needed to be clarified [limpeza], we did this this morning and it’s totally safe“, Said Chongo Vidigal, speaking from the village.
The “sensitive area” released in the meantime is the village’s aerodrome and security has been restored, added the spokesman for Teatro Operacional Norte. The next step, he continued, will be the creation of conditions for a safe return of the population, forced to flee in the wake of the March 24 attacks.
“It is a critical phase, because it needs a lot of sharpness, a lot of attention and a lot of thought on the part of the Defense and Security Forces, in order to go receiving this population, but also doing prophylaxis [a prevenção da infiltração de grupos armados], so that they do not cause problems again ”, added the brigadier.
The governor of Cabo Delgado province, where Palma is located, Valige Tauabo, assured journalists that “the enemy was overthrown”, and the safe return of the displaced must be guaranteed.
“Our presence is because we know that the Defense and Security Forces have given themselves over to the cause of the country. The work that has been done has the enemy was overthrown“He declared to reporters in Palma.
However, the television channel Sky News received unpublished images that show the scale of the attack, in which, for example, people can be seen next to messages, such as “Help” and “SOS”, made with sheets and stones.
To the British station, a security analyst, who declined to be identified, said that “the army of Mozambique has been caught completely off guard“And that the militants” were attacked from the inside “.
“They did not know which way to turn, some simply abandoned their positions and ran,” he said.
The attack killed dozens, including British businessman Philip Mawer. According to Sky News, it is feared that this was only the first of a larger invasion that is spreading in the north of the country.
The violence unleashed more than three years ago in the province of Cabo Delgado gained a new escalation a week ago, when armed groups first attacked the village of Palma, which is about six kilometers from the multimillion-dollar natural gas projects.
The attacks forced the flight of thousands of residents from Palma, aggravating a humanitarian crisis that reaches about 700 thousand people in the province, since the beginning of the conflict, according to United Nations data.