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The Islamic State terrorists are increasing their attacks in Mozambique

The Islamic State terrorists are increasing their attacks in Mozambique

February 27, 2020 » Today News » /

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 Affected Countries: mozambique;

Militants affiliated with the Islamic State terror group have increased their attacks in recent weeks against security forces and civilians in the restive northern region of Mozambique.

This week, IS announced via its Amaq News Agency that its affiliate in Central Africa had killed nine soldiers from the Mozambican army in the province of Cabo Delgado.

Local news also reported clashes between Mozambican security forces and Islamist insurgents near a village in the Muslim-majority region.

Since 2017, Islamist militants have carried out deadly attacks against the military and local residents in Cabo Delgado, killing hundreds of people and displacing thousands others.

But U.N. officials say there has been a dramatic increase of such attacks in recent months.

“Armed groups have been randomly targeting local villages and terrorizing the local population. … We have reports of beheadings, kidnappings and disappearances of women and children,” said Andrej Mahecic, spokesperson of the U.N. refugee agency (UNHCR), during a recent news briefing. “The attacks have now spread across nine out of the 16 districts in Cabo Delgado.”

In total, the U.N. says, at least 28 attacks have been carried out in Cabo Delgado since the beginning of the year.

The violence has displaced more than 100,000 people throughout the province, UNHCR said.

Several radical militant groups have been active in Cabo Delgado in recent years, including Ansar al-Sunna, which has been responsible for dozens of terror attacks against civilians and government forces in northern Mozambique.

The group is known locally as al-Shabab and also goes by Ahlu al-Sunna and Swahili Sunna. With links to IS, little is known about Ansar al-Sunna and its political objectives.

In April 2019, IS declared its so-called Central African Province, known as ISCAP. Attacks attributed to its Central African Province affiliate have been limited to Mozambique and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Experts say after losing all the territory it once held in Iraq and Syria, IS seems to be shifting its strategy and focusing on local militant groups in Africa and elsewhere that have pledged allegiance to the terror group.

In March 2019, IS was declared defeated after U.S.-backed forces in Syria captured the last piece of land under the group’s control.

Colin Clarke, a senior fellow at the Soufan Center, a New York-based research group, said that since then, IS has been attempting to rebuild its networks and increase its operational tempo.

“IS militants will continue to seek out weak states with subpar security forces, and Africa is a continent ripe for IS expansion,” he said.

“IS may view Cabo Delgado as a launching pad from which to spread throughout the rest of sub-Saharan Africa,” Clarke told VOA.

Other experts, however, believe that the core leadership of IS doesn’t have direct control over its African affiliates, including Ansar al-Sunna.

“The strongest kind of linkage between the two groups is the fact that Islamic State claims attacks committed by al-Sunna, and al-Sunna seemingly provides the Islamic State’s various media channels with imagery and videos of its attacks conducted against the Mozambican military,” said Ryan Cummings, director of Signal Risk, a security risk management firm based in Cape Town, South Africa.

And while its local affiliate has also targeted civilians, many of whom were Muslims, IS has not necessarily claimed responsibility for all militant attacks carried out in northern Mozambique.

“The Islamic State is quite discriminant in terms of which attack it claims,” Cummings told VOA, adding that “what it seems to limit its claims to has been violence targeting military interests.”

Source: VOA News

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