The fight for Cabo Delgado: A hidden war over Mozambique’s natural resources – by Neha Wadekar (The Telegraph – July 21, 2021)

A brutal insurgency has been escalating in the region since 2017, leaving thousands of people dead and forcing many more from their homes

Luisa Victor heard the war before she saw it. “I was chatting with a friend,” the 28-year-old mother of five tells the Telegraph. “Then we heard gunshots in the same hour. Everyone knows that war begins with a signal.”

Moments later, armed insurgents stormed Ms Victor’s village in Cabo Delgado, the northernmost province of Mozambique. They burned houses to the ground, beheaded people and captured women and children, including Ms Victor and her baby.

“I was scared and shaking, and I was crying,” says Ms Victor. “I couldn’t look at them.” Ms Victor spent a full month last year imprisoned in the insurgents’ headquarters deep in one of Cabo Delgado’s forests. She was held as a domestic slave and witnessed the fighters’ violence.

“We saw them beheading men,” she says. “They would hold them by the ears and tie them to a post. They would behead them and take the heads and bring them inside the house to show us. They said, ‘this is the work that we do.’”

A brutal insurgency has been escalating in Cabo Delgado since 2017. Nearly 3,000 people have been killed and another 800,000 displaced by the fighting. The group, known locally as Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaah (ASWJ) or al-Shabaab, reportedly pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State in 2018.

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