Militant attacks in Mozambique kill seven, threaten voter registration

07 May 2019 - 13:51
By AFP
Image: 123RF/ zabelin

Suspected Islamists have killed seven people in northern Mozambique in weekend attacks, threatening aid to victims of Cyclone Kenneth and paralysing ongoing voter registration for October elections, local sources said on Monday.

Islamist fighters have terrorised remote communities in Mozambique's gas-rich, Muslim-majority Cabo Delgado region since October 2017, killing around 200 people and forcing thousands from their homes.

Between Friday and Sunday at least four separate villages were attacked in northern Cabo Delgado, local sources said.

"Armed men invaded the district of Meluco, specifically the village of Minhanha, killed three people, and burned about 100 houses on Sunday night," a local source, who did not want to be identified fearing retaliation, told AFP.

Sunday's attack followed another on Saturday that killed a teacher riding a motorcycle and three other people who were burned to death in Macomia district.

The attacks were the first since Cyclone Kenneth smashed into the country's northern region on April 25, leaving at least 41 dead and more than 240,000 affected.

The delivery of aid to cyclone-hit areas has been underway, but the attacks put aid distribution at risk while they "paralysed" voter registration.

"Insurgents invaded the villages of Iba and Ipho, in the district of Macomia," Magda Mendonca from the Public Integrity Center, an anti-corruption NGO that is also an election observer, told AFP.

Mendonca said the attackers "plundered property without causing human casualties," but added they "paralysed an ongoing voter registration."

"The successive attacks are disturbing the voter registration process in the region," Mendonca said.

General elections are scheduled for October 15.

On Friday, suspected Islamists also attacked another registration centre in the city of Nacate, also in the Macomia district.

According to local sources, "the gunmen vandalised equipment without causing human casualties."

Macomia was hit by the second cyclone to strike Mozambique in six weeks, after Cyclone Idai which killed more than 600 in the central parts of the country.