Maputo — Terrorists in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado “are dying every day, including of hunger, because we have cut their supply system”, the General Commander of the Mozambican police, Bernadino Rafael, declared in an interview with the Maputo daily “Noticias”.
Asked if he was satisfied with the results of the fight against terrorism, Rafael said he would only be satisfied “when our country is free of terrorism”. But he thought that without the resistance put up by the defence and security forces “by this time the terrorists would have reached other provinces, including Maputo city. Fortunately the defence forces blocked this”.
He believed the Mozambican forces had prevented the terrorists from “breaking up our system and endangering the State. They are unable to cross into other parts of the country, and this is a sign that we are doing something to fight them”.
Rafael admitted that he does not know how many fighters are in the terrorist forces. “It’s difficult to speak about the total number of terrorists, because with every passing day they recruit new people, and, on the other hand, many of them die in clashes with the defence and security forces”.
Others, he added, defect from the ranks of the terrorists, and return to their communities. “So we don’t have an exact number for how many there are, but the truth is we are faced with a number of terrorists who are burning down houses, and disembowelling innocent people”.
Asked whether there is a risk that the terrorists may use a port or aerodrome in Cabo Delgado to move drugs and guns into the country, Rafael said they “are seeking, at any cost, to maintain their logistics.
But he claimed that the Cabo Delgado coast and offshore islands are under the control of the Mozambican authorities. They could not use the port and airport of Mocimboa da Praia either “because we are there”.
The terrorists, he said, know that the defence and security forces “are in full control of our coast. We have our system of control for those areas. They try to wriggle out of this system so that they can obtain their logistics”.
The jihadists captured Mocimboa da Praia town and port in August. Since then no journalists have visited Mocimboa da Praia, and so claims that it is back in government hands lack confirmation.
“Noticias” pointed out that the displaced people fleeing from villages under terrorist attack are overwhelmingly women and children. What had happened to all the young men? Rafael said that the military and the police are deeply concerned about this.
“We have tried to find out from the wives where their husbands are, and we don’t always receive convincing answers”, he added. “Sometimes the explanations are empty and can’t be believed”.
Were these men all dead, or had they joined the terrorists? “We are working so that we obtain circumstantial information about the whereabouts of each of them, and why they disappeared from home”, said Rafael.