Leaders of the Southern African Development Community (SADC), a block of 16 countries, are consulting on how to help Mozambique fight insurgents wreaking havoc in its northern province of Cabo Delgado.

Botswana’s President Mokgweetsi Masisi, current chairperson of the SADC Troika Organ on Politics, Defense and Security, said Wednesday he has held discussions with South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Zimbabwe’s Emmerson Mnangagwa on ways to help Mozambique fight terrorism.

Talking to reporters during a visit to Zimbabwe, Masisi said the SADC will ensure that assaults by dissident, rebellious and non-state forces do not undermine the democratic credentials and peace in the region.

An armed militant group believed to be affiliated with the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group attacked the town of Palma in Cabo Delgado province near the border with Tanzania last Wednesday, killing dozens and injuring scores of others. Several people are still unaccounted for.

The northern province of Mozambique is rich in natural gas, and companies such as France’s Total SE are to extract liquefied natural gas (LNG) from offshore sites in the Indian Ocean, but experts say such attacks could derail the project.

Investments by Total and others are estimated at $23 billion, one of the largest investments on the continent.

The armed group, locally known as al-Shabaab but with no established links to the armed militant group in Somalia, has wreaked havoc in northern Mozambique since late 2017, killing hundreds, displacing communities, and capturing towns.

“These attacks are especially directed at disrupting investment in oil and gas projects in Mozambique and terrorizing the local population,” The Mozambican Oil and Gas Chamber said in a statement Wednesday.

The group called on the international community to support the government of Mozambique in its efforts to deal with terrorism in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.

“Terrorism is a global problem and Mozambique must therefore not be left to deal with it alone,” the chamber said as it strongly condemned the March 25 terrorist attacks in the town of Palma.

“Terrorism is a scourge and it must never be let to prevail,” it further said, adding that it fully supports the Mozambique Armed Defense Forces under the leadership of President Filipe Nyusi who responded swiftly to contain the attacks to save lives and property.

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