Local media said on Wednesday that the terrorists captured the port of Mocimboa da Praia at dawn, adding that government forces fled the far-northern town when the extremists started attacking.
Mozambique’s Defense and Security Forces (FDS) also confirmed that the terrorists had launched “sequenced attacks” on several villages surrounding the port over the past week in an attempt to occupy the town.
“At the moment, there are ongoing actions to neutralize the terrorists that are using populations in the affected areas as shields,” it said in a statement.
The attack — the third on the town this year — was the latest in an intensifying militancy in Mozambique’s north since 2017. Recently, Daesh had claimed a number of the attacks in the troubled region.
Mocimboa da Praia is a port in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province and lying on the Indian Ocean coast.
Cabo Delgado, which is expected to become the center of a natural gas industry after several promising discoveries, has seen a string of assaults on security forces and civilians since 2018.
The province is already home to multi-billion-dollar gas projects led by foreign companies such as Total.
Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi has vowed to dedicate more resources to fighting the militancy since his re-election in January, and the government in Maputo is pushing forward with the gas development projects in the province.