The Mozambican Defence and Security Forces have “completely” retaken Palma, the target of attacks by armed groups 11 days ago, spokesman for Northern Operational Theatre, Brigadier Chongo Vidigal, said this Sunday, speaking from the town itself.
Palma “is completely [retaken by the Defence and Security Forces]. Today we have completed the cleansing of the only area that still needed to be clarified [cleansed]. We did this this morning, and it is [now] totally safe”.
The “sensitive area” [which has been] liberated is the town’s airfield, and security has been restored, he added.
The next step, he continued, would be the creation of conditions for the safe return of the population, forced to flee in the wake of the March 24 attacks.
“This is critical, because it needs a lot of sharpness, a lot of attention and a lot of thought on the part of the Defence and Security Forces, in order for the population to return, including prophylaxis [preventing the infiltration of armed groups], so that they do not cause problems again,” Vidigal added.
Valige Tauabo, the governor of Cabo Delgado province, where Palma is located, assured journalists that “the enemy had been overthrown” in Palma, and the safe return of those displaced would be guaranteed.
“We are here because we know that the Defence and Security Forces have given themselves over to the cause of the motherland. The work that has been done has overthrown the enemy,” he told reporters in Palma.
The violence unleashed more than three years ago in Cabo Delgado escalated a week ago when armed groups first attacked the town of Palma, about six kilometres from the multimillion-dollar natural gas projects located there.
The attacks caused dozens of deaths and forced the flight of thousands of residents, aggravating a humanitarian crisis that has already affected about 700,000 people in the province since the beginning of the conflict, according to United Nations data.
Watch the TVM report below, brought by Sala da Paz.