SAS troops hunting for missing British caterer Phil Mawer following a deadly Islamic State terror attack in Mozambique
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A SAS squad are in Mozambique searching for a British man missing following a deadly ISIS terror attack.
The three specialist troops were deployed from a base in Nairobi, Kenya, in a bid to find Phil Mawer.
They are travelling light and are being assisted by South African mercenaries.
The Somerset man is believed to be the only Brit unaccounted for after ISIS terrorists stormed the city of Palma.
Dozens of local civilians and soldiers were killed, some beheaded, during the siege of Amarula Lodge, which serves Africa’s biggest gas project.
Mr Mawer, from Somerset, was in a convoy of 17 vehicles fleeing the compound when it was ambushed on Friday.
The whereabouts of 10 of the cars are unknown with only seven – including that of caterer Mr Mawer – outrunning the militants.
The Mozambique government confirmed that dozens of people had died in the attack including seven during the convoy ambush, The Times reports.
ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack via its Amaq news agency, saying its fighters had taken control of the town after days of clashes with security forces.
They had killed at least 55 people including a number of soldiers, destroyed and taken control of buildings including factories and banks, and seized vehicles, it said.
Decapitated bodies are littering the street following days of fighting.
“It’s a real humanitarian catastrophe,” Lola Castro, World Food Programme regional director, said.
“People are… scattered all over the place – by boat, by road.”
Pilots from Dyck Advisory Group (DAG), a private South African firm, are searching for survivors.
On Sunday a flotilla of boats rescued hundreds of trapped workers from Palma, which sits on the coast of the Indian Ocean.
“It was total chaos,” Lionel Dyck, the founder of DAG, which helped evacuate a number of those trapped by helicopter, told the BBC.
“They completely wreaked havoc, and there was no evacuation plan.”
He said his helicopters had come under heavy fire from insurgents wielding AK-47s, machine guns and mortars as they plucked people from the bush.
The attack began last Wednesday after French company Total announced plans to continue natural gas liquifying operations at the nearby multibillion dollar gas-field development project at Afungi.
Many of the contract workers caught up in the ambush had just arrived in Mozambique to prepare living quarters for Total staff.
The district where Palma is located is home to around 110,000 people, according to UN.estimates.
They include about 43,600 who sought shelter there after fleeing attacks elsewhere in Cabo Delgado province, which has been home to a simmering Islamist insurgency since 2017.
“(Many) came to Palma looking for safety, and they have left Palma without any,” said Jonathan Whittall, director of analysis at international aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres.
The number of people displaced in the latest attack was likely to be in the 10s of thousands, aid workers said.
Some would likely be trying to make their way south to the provincial capital, Pemba, by boat, they said, while others were headed north through the bush toward the Tanzania boarder.
A group arriving in Pemba told the UN refugee agency that their initial attempts to seek safety in Tanzania were thwarted by a difficult river crossing.