(MOZAMBIQUE) LATEST: Fighting around the strategic town of Palma entered a second day on Thursday as ISIL-linked fighters occupied and ransacked it despite French energy giant Total claiming it was secure #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Mar.29: Mozambique’s government said the town – in its northernmost province of Cabo Delgado and about 10km (6.2 miles) from gas developments worth $60bn – came under a three-pronged attack on Wednesday and security forces moved in to establish order:

Mozambique: #IslamicState jihadis ransack town near gas developments worth $60,000,000,000: ‘The jihadis in Mozambique have declared that they want to impose Sharia. If they get hold of these gas developments, they could have plenty of money to finance their jihad for years to come’

“Mozambique military launches offensive after ISIL attack,” Al Jazeera, March 25, 2021 (thanks to Henry):

Bodies were visible in the streets, some of them beheaded, and helicopter gunships exchanged fire with the attackers, a security source told Reuters news agency.

The attack came shortly after French oil giant Total announced plans to resume construction at the nearby site of a $20bn offshore gas project….

Within a few hours of Total’s announcement, strategically important Palma, which hosts numerous international companies looking to cash in on one of the biggest gas finds in a decade, had been hit with its first major strike.

Mozambique’s forces had not repelled the attack as of Thursday morning and fighting was ongoing, according to sources in touch with the Mozambique government and military officials.

Joseph Hanlon, a researcher and author on Mozambique, said vast mineral wealth in the region had been exploited by an elite few with the majority of residents not reaping any profits, leading to the rebellion.

“It is really a serious threat. One of the reasons the Palma attack is so important is this is the closest they’ve come to the gas project in scale. There were more than 100 insurgents, it was well organised, well-coordinated,” Hanlon told Al Jazeera.

He said reports suggest the attackers pulled out of Palma, but not before robbing two banks and having “taken control of the town for a day”.

Palma is located more than 1,800km (1,120 miles) northeast of Maputo in gas-rich Cabo Delgado province, where authorities have grappled with a brutal rebellion since 2017.

Fighters affiliated with the armed group ISIL (ISIS) have raided villages and towns across the province for years, causing hundreds of thousands to flee their homes….

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: Mar.29: 2021:

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