Rwanda troops in Mozambique claim progress against jihadists

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Rwandan armed forces prepare to board a flight to Mozambique, at the airport in Kigali, Rwanda Saturday, July 10, 2021. Rwanda on Friday said it would immediately deploy 1,000 members of its armed forces and police to northern Mozambique to help battle an Islamic extremist insurgency. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)
Rwandan armed forces prepare to board a flight to Mozambique, at the airport in Kigali, Rwanda Saturday, July 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Muhizi Olivier)

Rwandan forces in Mozambique, deployed less than a month ago to help battle jihadists, said Thursday they have scored successes in driving out the militants wreaking havoc in the country’s gas-rich north.

The forces last week helped the Mozambique army regain control of Awasse, a small but strategic settlement near the key town of Mocimboa da Praia seized by militants in August 2020.

“We are progressing well in Cabo Degaldo province,” Rwanda Defence Force spokesman colonel Ronald Rwivanga told AFP via phone text.

“We have registered successes on two fronts and are closing in Mocimboa da Praia,” he added, referring to the port town that has been occupied by the militants since August 12, 2020.

The town, from where the first Islamist attacks were staged in October 2017, has since last year become the de-facto headquarters of the IS-linked extremists.

Mozambican military forces have been struggling to regain control over the province, which is home to one of Africa’s biggest liquefied natural gas projects.

Rwanda’s 1,000-strong force deployed on July 9, following an April visit to Kigali by Mozambican leader Filipe Nyusi.

Weeks after Rwanda rolled in, neighbouring countries, under the aegis of the 16-member regional bloc Southern African Development Community (SADC) started sending in troops.

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