Mozambique’s military chief has said the ongoing offensive in the restive northern region of Cabo Delgado has faced little resistance because militants based there have likely discarded their weapons and disguised themselves as civilians.
“That’s why we continue to pursue them and do the screening of any arrivals of people, particularly those who claim to be coming from Palma, which for a long period until recently was deserted,” Brig Chongo Vidgal told state TV on Sunday night.
He said “95% of the militants” were Mozambicans.
Last year the group captured the gas boom town of Palma and the strategic port town of Mocímboa da Praia.
Mocímboa da Praia was retaken last week after a campaign led by the Rwandan troops who were deployed to the region last month, as part of a bilateral agreement.
Brig Vidgal said Rwandan troops had better equipment but added that Mozambican troops “have a high sense of patriotism” and were working closely with their counterparts.
He also said that Rwandan soldiers had been quick to give updates about the mission, including sharing images from the frontlines, because they had journalists embedded with the troops.
“We are also open to national journalists to follow suit,” he said.
Member countries in the southern African regional bloc, Sadc, have also joined efforts to fight the Islamist militants in northern Mozambique.
More than 3,000 people have been killed and 820,000 have fled their homes since the insurgency in Cabo Delgado began in 2017