Rwanda president visits troops fighting Mozambique insurgency

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JULY 11: President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame speaks during the London Summit on Family Planning on July 11, 2012 in London, England. The London Summit on Family Planning is organised by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation with the UNFPA (United Nations Population Fund) to mobilise global policy and to support the rights of women across the world with contraceptive information and services. (Photo by Carl Court - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

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.

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 dispatched troops, including almost 1,500 pledged by Mozambique’s neighbour, South Africa.

The European Union has meanwhile set up a military mission for Mozambique to help train its armed forces.

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.

 

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