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Mozambique says soldiers killed over 120 jihadists in April

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In this file photo, a Mozambican soldier is seen bringing down a structure torched by attackers to be rebuilt as a shelter for people fleeing militant attacks, in Naunde, northern Mozambique. PHOTO: AFP

Mozambican soldiers have killed scores of jihadists in the restive northern province of Cabo Delgado since the start of April and now have the situation there “under control,” a minister has said.

Interior Minister Amad Miquidade on Tuesday night chronicled four incidents in which he said 129 “terrorists” had been killed.

Thirty-nine died on April 7 when they tried to attack a village, he said.

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On April 10, soldiers killed 59 insurgents on Quirimba island, the minister added.

A day later, 30 insurgents were killed when they attempted to attack Ibo Island, he said.

Islamist fighters have terrorised remote communities in the Muslim-majority northern region since 2017, killing more than 900 people, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).

In the past two months they have stepped up attacks, carrying out brazen raids on two towns  as part of a declared campaign to establish an Islamist caliphate.

But the minister, who was speaking openly for the first time about the attacks in the north, said the situation was now “under control”.

“What this means is that we have identified where the enemy is located, where their bases are, their training camps and their movements.

“Meanwhile, the defence and security forces are strategically preparing for yet another offensive,” he said.

The minister said investigators were probing the massacre of 52 young civilians in Xitaxi village on April 7.

The jihadists beheaded or shot the villagers after they refused to join their ranks, a police spokesman said on April 21.

Miquidade also dismissed accusations by Renamo, Mozambique’s biggest opposition group, that government troops had killed 14 civilians in recent incidents in Cabo Delgado this month .

“The security forces will not tolerate these acts of subversion, which seek to divert attention from their mission to defend the country,” he said.

The unrest has forced some 200,000 people to flee their homes and stoked concern among energy giants operating in the gas-rich region.

Last week, a government security advisory council admitted for the first time the presence of so-called Islamic State militants in the country.

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