Pemba – Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame on Friday began a two-day visit to Mozambique’s insurgent-hit north, where he has sent 1 000 troops to help local soldiers fight jihadist militants.
Rwanda in July was the first of several African countries to provide reinforcements to Mozambique’s army, overwhelmed by an insurgency in its gas-rich Cabo Delgado province linked to the Islamic State.
Kagame landed in the provincial capital Pemba on Friday morning, the Rwanda Broadcasting Agency tweeted in the Kinyarwanda language.
Mozambicans welcoming President Paul Kagame in Mozambique. pic.twitter.com/0MNWA9r13l
— Rwanda Beranova 🇷🇼 (@TuyisengeEpiph1) September 24, 2021
One of the activities planned during his two-day visit will be meeting the armed forces and police “sent to Cabo Delgado to restore peace”, it added.
Foreign forces have helped Mozambique regain ground since militants launched a coordinated assault on the port town of Palma in March, offsetting multi-billion-dollar gas projects and raising international concern.
Alongside Rwanda, members of the 16-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc have also been despatching troops – including almost 1 500 pledged by Mozambique’s neighbour and regional powerhouse South Africa.
The European Union has meanwhile set up a military mission for Mozambique to help train its armed forces.
President Paul #Kagame and his host President Filipe Nyusi are addressing Rwandan troops deployed in Mozambique-working alongside the Mozambican Armed Defence Forces (FADM)-to fight terrorist groups in the area. #RBANews pic.twitter.com/xcWmp3Z2z0
— Rwanda Broadcasting Agency (RBA) (@rbarwanda) September 24, 2021
Jihadist militants have been wreaking havoc in Cabo Delgado since 2017, raiding villages and towns in a stated bid to establish an Islamic Caliphate.
The violence has killed more than 3 306 people – half of them civilians – and displaced at least 800 000 from their homes over the past four years.
Mozambican forces backed by Rwandan troops struck a major victory in August, when they drove insurgents out of their de facto headquarters in the port city of Mocimboa da Praia.
But militants have continued to spread violence.
President Paul Kagame and the commander in chief of RDF together with President Filip Nyusi of Mozambique are visiting troops on the frontline in Carbo Delgado Province pic.twitter.com/lDlEBA1wuD
— The Great Lakes Eye (@TheGreatLakesE1) September 24, 2021
Some reportedly beheaded five civilians in the village of Namaluco last week, around 150km (about 90 miles) south of Palma, according to military and local sources.
Kagame and Mozambique’s president Filipe Nyusi are scheduled to address the media on Friday evening.
Picture: Getty Images