SAMIM (SADC Mission in Mozambique) elements in concert with Forḉas Armadas de Defesa de Moḉambique (FADM) report a successful offensive against Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah (ASWJ) terrorists on an island north of Pemba last week.
Matemo Island is one of the Quirimbas Islands, about 100 km from the port city of Pemba. The island is nearly 24 square kilometres in area with palm groves, beaches and five villages as well as tourist resorts. It is part of a 32-island archipelago including the Ibo, Medjumbe, Quirimba, Metundo, Quisiva, Vamizi and Rolas islands.
A SAMIM communique has it the island was attacked by ASWJ with “a top leader” in command.
“The terrorists lost ground suffering casualties and serious injuries,” the communique states, adding “about eight fatalities” were inflicted on the attackers with terrorist equipment and weapons recovered.
“Ongoing offensive operations are expected to root out all elements of terrorism in Ibo and Matemo islands and make the area safe to live,” the communique said.
Local media reported last week the Mozambican military killed 20 insurgents on Matemo while losing four of their own. Clashes on the island lasted three days. Two insurgents were captured, weapons seized and suspected insurgent boats destroyed. SAMIM forces were sent to hunt down remaining insurgents.
“As mandated, SAMIM will continue working jointly with FADM and co-ordinate collaboratively in other areas to ensure the safety of the Mozambican people is guaranteed. It is worth noting that SAMIM will always act in a professional and dignified manner in conducting operations,” the statement said.
SAMIM has been on the ground in troubled Cabo Delgado since July last year. The force is under the command of South African Major General Xolani Mankayi who has troops from eight southern African countries to utilise in efforts to remove ASWJ fighters from the province.
SADC troop and materiel contributing countries are Angola, Botswana, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Lesotho, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. A thousand-strong contingent from Rwanda is also in the east African country.
Reports have it the Lesotho detachment serving with SAMIM has been rotated and a South African rotation is on the cards.