Maputo  – The governor of the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, Celmira da Silva, on Sunday made her second visit to Mocimboa da Praia district within the space of a week, and urged the population to remain calm and vigilant in the face of any act that might disturb public order and tranquillity.

According to Radio Mozambique, she was speaking at a meeting with members of the district government, neighbourhood secretaries from Mocimboa town, and other representatives of the local authorities.

Police units in Mocimboa da Praia came under attack from armed Islamic extremists on 5 October. In those clashes, according to the police, two policemen and 14 of the raiders died and the extremists murdered a local community leader. The police made 52 arrests.

There was a further clash last Thursday afternoon, on the main road between Mocimboa da Praia town and Palma, when a police unit was ambushed. Details are still sketchy, but at least four people (one member of the riot police and three of the attacking group) are said to have been killed.

Celmira da Silva declared she was pleased that normality had returned to Mocimboa da Praia. “We have been informed that the situation in the district is calm”, she said. “Investigations are continuing and some results are beginning to emerge that allow the police to continue their work to discover what really happened here – who these groups are, and how we can continue working so that evils of this nature do not occur again”. 

In Mocimboa, the extremist group is referred to as “Al-Shabaab”, although there is no evidence that it has any formal ties with the Somali terrorist group of that name.

According to the independent newsheet “Mediafax”, the group is more properly called “Al-Sunna” or “Suahili-Sunna”. The ideology espoused by the group seems much the same as that of Islamic extremists across the globe – according to Mocimboa da Praia residents, they want to impose Sharia law, ban the sale of alcohol, and remove secular monuments and Christian crosses.

Orthodox Mozambican Islamic organisations have denounced the group. More than 30 moslem organisations condemned the Mocimboa attacks, and the leaders of Mocimboa da Praia Moslems say they repeatedly warned the authorities about the extremist group, but no action was taken.

There is no tradition of fundamentalism, let alone terrorism, among Mozambican Islamic communities, and a long tradition of cohabitation between Moslems and Christians. – AIM.

October 2017
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