Mozambique security forces killed at least 129 insurgents in northern Cabo Delgado, an area besieged by violence for the last three years, the interior minister said.
Since 2017, infrequent but violent raids on government buildings and villages by militias with suspected links to Islamic State intensified in the gas-rich northernmost province of one Africa’s poorest nations.
The interior ministry said the 129 killings were for the month and were retaliation for an attack on Xitaxi in Muidumbe district earlier in April, where insurgents killed 52 villagers.
Little is known about the insurgents. Initial attacks were claimed by a group known as Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama. More recently, Islamic State claimed a number of attacks.
Security officials struggle to contain attacks. Since clinching re-election in January President Filipe Nyusi vowed to put more resources into fighting the insurgency.
Exxon Mobil and Total, among multi-national oil majors developing the offshore gas projects in northern Mozambique thought to be worth more than $60 billion, are concerned the violence could affect operations.
Interior minister Amade Miquidade said in a statement 39 extremists were killed attempting to invade Muidumbe village on April 7, with 59 killed in a gun battle on Querimba islands three days later. Thirty-one more were killed on Ibo Island between April 11 and April 13, the statement said.