Britain advised citizens against travelling to north-eastern Mozambique after a series of attacks by groups with links to Islamic militants.
At least 17 people were killed – 10 beheaded -since May in Palma, near the Tanzanian border. The UK joined the United States in issuing a warning about the attacks.
“The Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against all but essential travel to the districts of Palma, Mocimboa de Praia and Macomia in Cabo Delgado province due to an increase in attacks by groups with links to Islamic extremism,” the office said on its website.
Palma is near one of the world’s biggest untapped offshore gas fields, and Anadarko Petroleum is seeking to raise $14 billion (10.47 billion pounds) to $15 billion for a liquefied natural gas project in the region.
The company said it was monitoring the situation. It declined to comment on reports it suspended work on the project.
Canada-based Wentworth Resources said the security situation was part of the reason it sought a one-year extension for its appraisal licence in the region.
“This has prevented safe access to the area for Wentworth staff and contractors. The company continues to monitor the situation closely,” it said on its website.
Six men wielding machetes killed at least seven people and injured four others this month in the predominantly Muslim region. Ten people were beheaded last month and local media reported at least two were children.
Mozambique has not been a focal point of Islamist militant activity in the past and police are reluctant to ascribe the attacks to Islamists. About 30% of Mozambique’s 30 million people are Roman Catholics and about 18% are Muslim.