Zimbabwe pledges more than 300 military personnel to train Mozambique forces

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HARARE, ZIMBABWE - NOVEMBER 18: Zimbabwean soldiers take security measures as Zimbabweans march to demand President Robert Mugabe's resignation in Zimbabwe's capital Harare on November 18, 2017. (Photo by Tafadzwa Ufumeli /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Zimbabwe will send 304 military personnel to the SADC Standby Force Mission in Mozambique (SAMIM) to train Mozambican forces as part of efforts to stabilize the southeast African nation which has been plagued by an Islamist insurgency.

FILE PHOTO: Zimbabwean soldiers take security measures during a past event. (Photo by Tafadzwa Ufumeli /Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri on Thursday said the group will compose of 303 instructors and one specialist officer and be deployed to the coordinating mechanism of the SADC Force Headquarters in the Mozambican capital Maputo.

“While other countries have to deploy combat troops, Zimbabwe pledged to assist in the training of Mozambique armed forces to enhance their capability to combat terrorism,” Muchinguri-Kashiri-Kashiri told journalists during a press briefing in Harare.

The deployment, she added, will take place once the Status of Force Agreement is signed.

Islamic State-linked militants who have been terrorizing Mozambique’s gas-rich north since 2017 escalated their attacks last year and culminated on March 24 with coordinated raids on the port town of Palma in which dozens of people were killed, some decapitated, and thousands of others displaced.

The recent violence offset major gas exploration projects in Cabo Delgado province and raised fears it could spread to neighbouring countries, placing pressure on President Filipe Nyusi to accept foreign troops.

The 16-member SADC agreed late last month to send troops to the province. That military intervention was formalized a week after east African nation Rwanda announced it was starting to deploy 1,000 troops to the area.

Botswana has also deployed troops while South Africa on Wednesday announced its intention to send more than 1,400 troops to quell the insurgency. 

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