By Mbangwa Xaba

Stranded villagers, engulfed by both relief and traumatic fears, are returning to their homes after a long absence in the face of terror inflicted by the Islamic extremists who were out-gunned from Cabo Delgado by soldiers from Rwanda and the Southern African Development Community.
This province has seen more than 3,100 people killed and 817,000 fleeing their homes since the insurgency began in 2017.

Africa News reports that residents are returning to ruins of many villages and towns that have been ravaged by the battle in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado. The devastation by the rebels in the districts of Quissanga and Macomia bear scars of terror on every corner and reconstruction is repeated amidst the ruins, but the trauma is great and fear persists among the communities.

“They took all this [the village] and destroyed all the properties that were here, including the houses and schools,” Samuel Saíde (56), a resident recounts.

The rebels attacked the village of Outubro, in the district of Quissanga, in the province of Cabo Delgado, more than a year ago.

In addition to killing an unknown number of people, the rebels looted property and burned houses (mostly made of adobe) in this forgotten community in the middle of nowhere, just a few metres from the bridge that separates Quissanga from Macomia, two of the nine districts affected by armed violence in Cabo Delgado over the past four years.

In most towns like in Macomia, the rebels destroyed government infrastructure, ransacked the local hospital, and burned down several houses and police stations. After Mocímboa da Praia, Muidumbe, and Palma, the districts of Quissanga and Macomia are among those most affected by the actions of armed groups in Cabo Delgado.

Since arriving in Mozambique in July, Rwanda’s troops have rapidly helped Mozambique’s armed forces achieve victories against the insurgents, who had until now made the north-eastern part of Cabo Delgado province all but uninhabitable.

“We were living in harmony but there were religious differences. We had people from other religions whose ideals we could not tolerate. They then decided to go into the forest to fight. We have been facing tragedies since when the terrorists came here.” said Bakali Ali Mbaale, a village chief in one of the towns in the province.


Joint operations between Mozambican and Rwandan forces — whose deployment is reportedly being financed by France — have forced the rebels to retreat “from the zones where they have exerted relative influence,” a senior Mozambican military officer told journalists.

The joint force had taken control of public and private buildings in Mocímboa da Praia, including local government offices, the port, the airport, the hospital, markets, and restaurants, the officer said.

Last week it had hinted of what was to follow, when it said it had helped the Mozambique army regain control of Awasse — a small but strategic settlement near the key town of Mocimboa da Praia seized by militants in August last year.
“We are progressing well in Cabo Delgaldo province,” Rwanda Defence Force spokesman colonel Ronald Rwivanga told AFP.

Heading home

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