A general view of Montepuez, Mozambique
- The sister-in-law of Zara Alifa Assumane was killed two years ago by insurgents terrorizing northern Mozambique, and her severed head was placed in front of her door.
- Assumans fled their home in Mocimboa da Praia after the murder and now live in a camp in Montepuez, 150 kilometers away.
- The camp for displaced Mozambicans has grown to thousands of people. While aid agencies provide food, sanitation and water, a local economy is emerging.
Her severed head was placed in front of their door.
Her tongue was cut out – punishment for thirst to speak back to the insurgents terrorizing northern Mozambique.
Two years after the death of her sister-in-law, the scene still haunts Zara Alifa Assumane, 62.
She fled her home in Mocimboa da Praia after the murder and now lives in a camp in Montepuez, 150 kilometers away.
“I’m still scared, I can not stop to think about it,” she said, with her hair wrapped in a red chili-patterned headscarf.
When the Islamists came up near their house, they ordered everyone outside.
“My sister-in-law spoke against her, so they beheaded her,” Assumane recalls.
“They placed their severed heads in front of our house door and then they cut off their hands and laid them on their bodies.”
The mutilation took place before the eyes of her son, who was then abducted by the insurgents.
Life is calmer now. The camp for displaced Mozambicans has grown to thousands of people. While aid agencies provide food, sanitation and water, a local economy is emerging.
Hairdressers and tailors have set up shop, and even accept mobile money payments. Children sell eggs laid by hens raised in the camp.
A shack with a satellite dish on the roof announced the day of entertainment: the football match “Barcelonas vs Napoles”.
Roosters crow around the Mozambican rap driven by speakers by solar panels.
The group known locally as al-Shabab – albeit without links to the Somali militants of a similar name – invaded towns and villages, uprooting some 800,000 people. More than 3,700 others, including 1,600 citizens, died.
But attacks like those on the village of Assumane are now less common.
Since July, thousands of troops from Rwanda and the SADC regional bloc have been deployed to support the Mozambican army.
The northern province of Cabo Delgado is the only part of Mozambique with a Muslim majority. The region has also been shown to have large natural gas and mineral reserves.
Efforts to extract natural gas have attracted the largest investments ever in Africa, including a $ 20 billion project from TotalEnergies.
Montepuez itself is rich in rubies, with foreign mining giants such as the British Gemfields operating here.
Part of the anger that drives the uprising is in the failure of gas investments to raise living standards in one of the poorest regions of one of the poorest countries in the world.
Countless people have terrible stories to tell, horrors that feel strange to the azure blue sea and white sandy beaches of the province.
But signs of conflict are everywhere. A military camp is located near the main airport in Pemba, where planes from Lesotho and Botswana are parked on the runway. This serves as an operations center for foreign troops who help Mozambicans with the insurgents.
South African charity Joint Aid Management helps the displaced in the camp.
Chief Executive Officer Killen Otieno has worked in Somalia, South Sudan and other conflict zones, but said the uprising in Mozambique was “total destruction”.
“In my 30 years of experience, I have never seen anything like what I have seen here in Cabo Delgado,” he said.
Northern Mozambique has long felt neglected by the government. Communist rebels in the north fought a devastating civil war when the country was a Cold War proxy battlefield.
Then rebels wanted to take control of the country. Now the insurgents say they want to establish a caliphate, but the real goals are unclear.
“I do not understand the intent of al-Shabab,” said former fisherman Cornielo Manuel, 31. “They shouted ‘God is great,'” when they attacked, he reminded him.
He rolled up his T-shirt sleeve to see bullet wounds in his shoulder.
He was quiet at home one day when a group of men came ringing a bell.
They identified themselves as al-Shabab and started firing, he said.
“Blood flowed like a river. I counted about 50 men killed that day.”
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Mozambique followed by the horrors of insurrection
Source link Mozambique followed by the horrors of insurrection