Three Mozambican soldiers and a police officer have died in an attack by around 40 armed assailants in the country’s troubled northern province of Cabo Delgado.
Military equipment was stolen in the raid on the towns of Macomia and Quiterajo, marking a flare-up in violence after a period of relative calm, the authorities in Maputo reported on Wednesday.
In September last year, President Filipe Nyusi declared that all the districts in the province had been cleared of rebels.
Starting in 2017, Islamist rebels began conducting attacks in the region, where the French energy concern Total is engaged in a large project to extract liquid natural gas (LNG) for export.
The port of Palma in the far north of the province was attacked by rebels in March last year, with the Islamic State militia claiming it had seized the town.
Many residents were killed and hundreds of thousands were forced to flee, the UN refugee agency UNHCR reported.
Observers attribute the violence to extreme poverty and the belief among residents that they are neglected by the government in Maputo more than 2,000 kilometres south of Palma.
The Mozambican government is being supported by troops from the Southern African Development Community (SADC). Rwandan troops are also involved in combatting the violence under a bilateral agreement with Mozambique.
In July last year, the European Union set up a mission to train Mozambique’s army, with most of the military trainers coming from Portugal, the former colonial power.