Islamic State Seizes Key Port in Gas-Rich Mozambique

Ships are seen docking at the Commercial port of Beira on November 4, 2010 in Beira, Mozambique. The Port of Beira lies on the northern shores of the Mozambique Channel off the Indian Ocean at the mouth of the Pungoe River in Sofala Province. In 2011, after the construction of …
GIANLUIGI GUERCIA/AFP via Getty

Islamic State terrorists seized a key port in northern Mozambique this week used for cargo deliveries to nearby natural gas projects worth $60 billion, local media reported on Wednesday.

“The port of Mocimboa da Praia was captured by the terrorists at dawn,” local news website Moz24Horas reported, as quoted by Agence France-Presse (AFP). The port seizure followed days of fighting between Mozambique military forces and the terrorists in Mocimboa da Praia, after which naval forces “ran out of ammunition to keep insurgents at bay,” local news site Zitamar reported, as quoted by Reuters.

The port facilitates key cargo deliveries to major natural gas projects located just 37 miles north of Mocimboa da Praia worth an estimated $60 billion. One of the projects, a liquefied natural gas facility considered “one of Africa’s biggest single investment projects” is located on nearby Afungi Peninsula, according to AFP.

Wednesday’s port seizure marked the latest of several attacks on the town this year by a local militant group loyal to Islamic State.

“The group, known as Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama, pledged allegiance to Islamic State last year, and IS subsequently began claiming the local group’s attacks, including another strike on Mocimboa da Praia earlier this year,” Reuters reported.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for violent seizures of military bases near Mocimboa da Praia that killed an unknown number of Mozambique soldiers. The terrorists captured weaponry including machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades during the takeovers.

A “poor, donor-dependent southern African country” currently enduring “its worst-ever financial crisis,” Mozambique and its underequipped military have struggled to defend strategic sites from increasing attacks by Islamic State, AFP noted in its report.

Neighboring countries are watching Islamic State’s advances in Mozambique with trepidation, nervous that the Islamic insurgency could spill onto their borders. “Tanzania has said it is launching an offensive against the jihadists in forests on the border with Mozambique,” the BBC reported.

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