Battle looms in Mozambique over extremists’ control of port

MAPUTO, MOZAMBIQUE (AP) — The stinging success of Mozambique’s extremist rebels in seizing and holding a northern port city signals to the government, neighbouring countries and the world that Africa has yet another insurgency hotspot.

A battle looms as the government is expected to launch its forces to regain control of Mocimboa da Praia, a strategic port in northeastern Mozambique that was captured by the extremists earlier this month.

The Islamic State Central African Province showed new levels of organisation, strategy, manpower and weaponry in the days-long battle to win control of the port earlier this month.

The extremists’ victory in Mocimboa added to the obstacles facing the multi-billion dollar international investments to exploit the massive deposits of liquified natural gas in northern Mozambique.

Mocimboa, in Mozambique’s northernmost Cabo Delgado province, is a centuries-old port on Indian Ocean trade routes and close to the border with Tanzania.

It’s the third time this year that the rebels have taken control of Mocimboa and the longest time that they have held the city of an estimated 30,000 people.