Maputo – Mozambique on Tuesday, for the first time in two years, re-opened a key port servicing a multibillion-dollar gas project in the north of the country, public radio said, after dislodging jihadists from the town.
Militants linked to the Islamic State group seized the port town of Mocimboa da Praia in the Cabo Delgado province two years ago, turning it into their de facto headquarters and cutting off all commercial activities.
In August last year, Rwandan forces helped Mozambique retake control of the port town.
Mocimboa da Praia lies south of the Afungi peninsula – the nerve centre of a multibillion-dollar liquefied natural gas project dubbed Mozambique LNG operated by French energy giant TotalEnergies.
On Tuesday, a cargo ship belonging to Mozambique LNG arrived in Mocimboa da Praia, carrying fuel, cars, tractors and various equipment for companies operating in the gas hub of Palma around 80 kilometres (50 miles) to the north of the port.
The governor of Cabo Delgado, Valige Tauabo, and Mozambique’s TotalEnergies CEO, Maxime Rabilloud, witnessed the return of the first commercial vessel in two years.
The gas project was abandoned in March last year when the insurgents launched a brazen attack on Palma, killing local and foreign workers.
But since African troops have been deployed to the area, calm has gradually returned to the town and surrounding areas.
The insurgency erupted in October 2017 when fighters – since proclaimed to be affiliated to IS – attacked coastal areas in northern Cabo Delgado, close to the Tanzanian border.
In the five years since that first attack, at least 4 422 people have been killed, nearly half of them civilians, according to conflict tracker ACLED, and around a million have fled their homes.