Bloomberg (Reuters)-52-year-old Luisa Jose (Luisa Jose), a five-year-old mother, said that when insurgents linked to the Islamic State attacked Palma, a gas market town in northern Mozambique 10 days ago, she and them Conducted face-to-face communication.
She told Reuters at a stadium in the port city of Pemba: “I am about to save my life… They come from every street.”
“I saw them wearing bazookas. They were wearing uniforms with red scarves…tied to their heads.”
Jose said that militants quickly occupied her hometown of Palma, adjacent to a large natural gas project worth 60 billion US dollars.
Aid workers believe that the attack that began on March 24 caused thousands of people to flee the United Nations. However, according to the United Nations humanitarian agency OCHA, only 9,900 displaced persons were registered in Pemba and other areas of Cabo Delgado.
The international aid organization Médecins Sans Frontières said many people may still be hiding in the surrounding forests, while those who emerged told about seeing the bodies of other people who died of starvation or dehydration along the way.
According to an eyewitness to a contractor, some people were killed by crocodiles or killed in deep mud.
When the attack began, most of the contact with Palma was severed, and Reuters was unable to independently verify the empirical statements.
A spokesperson for the Mozambican National Defense and Security Forces declined to comment on Saturday, and there was no response to calls from the national police.
The town of Cabo Delgado, where Palma is located, has been home to a rapidly erupting Islamic rebel since 2017, which is now connected to the Islamic State. Security sources told Reuters that clashes between militants and government forces continued until Friday.
South Africa said on Saturday that Mozambique’s neighbors will meet next week to discuss the insurgency.
The Mozambican government stated that dozens of people were killed in the attack on Palma, but the scale of casualties and displacement is unclear.
Fato Abdula Ali, 29, said she was separated from her husband and three children in the chaos. After 9 months of pregnancy, she could not keep up with the whereabouts of other residents because they escaped and sent her baby son into the bushes alone. She said that she cut the baby’s umbilical cord with a branch.
She said that the next day, she took off her blood-stained clothes and found another group of people took her to safety in turn.
“I have pain all over,” she told Reuters at a hotel in Pemba.
Luisa Jose said that she spent nearly five days in the bushes, ate bitter cassava tubers, drank from the muddy water, and then came to Quitunda. Villages of people relocated from large-scale natural gas projects led by oil companies (including France’s Total).
She said that from there, she was evacuated by Total, but because there was no space on the ship, she had to leave more than six family members, including her husband and a daughter.
Total evacuated all surplus labor from the project site near Palma on Friday. Two sources with direct knowledge of the operation of the site told Reuters that all of this remained in the hands of the military. Total declined to comment.
Since she left her family, Jose has not heard from her family. Aid workers and diplomats said they were trapped among thousands of Kitundas.
“Are they safe? Do they have a place to stay? Will they come back? I don’t know,” she said.
Reporting by Emidio Jozine in Pemba; Additional reporting and writing by Emma Rumney; Editing by Alexandra Zavis and Ros Russell