Lesotho soldier is latest SAMIM fatality

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A Lesotho Defence Force (LDF) soldier died of unspecified – non-combat related – causes while serving with the SADC Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM), adding to a small and growing number of fatalities recorded by the mission.

The latest communique issued by the southern African regional bloc military force in the east African country states “Private Moalosi Jacob Khoaele passed on 28 November. A memorial service was held in honour of this fallen hero and his body has been repatriated to his native country”.

Flying the flag for the regional force was Botswana Defence Force (BDF) Commander, Lieutenant General Placid Segokgo, who visited SAMIM forces in Cabo Delgado last week. Accompanying him on the four-day office visit was Major General Joseph Seelo, BDF Joint Forces Commander.

Both men were briefed by SAMIM force commander, SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Major General Xolani Mankayi. They also met Professor Mpho Molomo, head of mission, and were taken to operational areas in the Pemba district.

Segokgo commended SAMIM forces for the work done since deployment and said “the SADC region is happy with the way the forces are executing their mandate” according to the communique. He urged all serving SAMIM soldiers to do their best and make the region proud by “degrading insurgents and stabilising Cabo Delgado province with the ultimate goal of achieving peace in the region”.

A mid-November SAMIM communique reported 11 Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah (ASWJ) terrorist deaths in Macomia district with weapons and military materiel seized. No losses or injuries were reported in SAMIM ranks.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) force currently comprises troops and equipment from Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. A further thousand from Rwanda are also in the east African country assisting FADM (Forças Armadas de Defesa de Moçambique) in an ongoing effort to remove ASWJ terrorists from northern Mozambique. The SAMIM force is reportedly fully operational following deployment five months ago.

Several SAMIM soldiers died on duty – a BDF soldier was killed in a vehicle accident on 29 July and a Tanzania People’s Defence Force soldier died “in an incident involving an aircraft” on 28 August. During fighting in September, a Tanzanian soldier was killed, two injured and a LDF soldier injured.

Although SAMIM has recorded successes against insurgents since its deployment, the Armed Conflict and Event Data Project (ACLED) warns recent attacks in northern Mueda district and now in Niassa province show insurgents have slipped the cordon and operate freely in areas, until now, free from terrorist activity.

The main takeaway from insurgent attacks in Niassa province in late November is the Mozambican government’s attempt to cordon off the conflict in the far north-east of Cabo Delgado has failed, ACLED stated.

Security analyst Jasmine Opperman notes Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP) claimed responsibility for an attack in Mozambique last week that apparently killed a solider and destroyed several houses. MediaFax reported on 30 November a vehicle transporting Mozambican soldiers was ambushed in Mecula district, with soldiers abandoning the vehicle and one wounded. On 25 November insurgents attacked a cash-in-transit vehicle on the Mecula/Negomane road.



African Defence Review director Darren Olivier maintains the insurgency is far from over. “Nothing done so far has seriously reduced the group’s strength. The Rwandan intervention is too limited, SAMIM is too small and there’s no sign of a broad long-term strategy to address the socio-economic issues driving this,” he stated.