Portugal defense minister, Joao Cravinho says they will send a further 60 troops to Mozambique as part of a new cooperation agreement aimed at helping the country tackle an Islamic State-linked insurgency in its north.
He said this on a news conference on Monday.
Mozambique has been grappling with the insurgency in its northern-most province of Cabo Delgado since 2017. But militants have massively stepped up their violence in the past year, taking a hefty toll on civilians and bringing a US$20 billion liquefied natural gas project run by oil giant Total to a grinding halt.
Cravinho reiterated that the agreement, which runs until 2026, will see Portugal increase its number of troops in Mozambique to 80 to train Mozambican soldiers to tackle the insurgency, share intelligence and help the country use drones to track the militants’ movements.
“An important project has been added to train Mozambican military personnel and the result is that the programme will see four times more Portuguese troops working with their Mozambican counterparts,” Cravinho told a news conference.
Cravinho and his Mozambican counterpart, Jamie Neto also signed the agreement in Lisbon yesterday.
Meanwhile, the European Union could also send between 200 and 300 EU soldiers to Mozambique on a training mission, the bloc’s top diplomat Joseph Borrell said in an interview with Portugal’s Radio Ranancenca published on Monday.
The Islamic State (ISIS) appears to be expanding its influence in Mozambique by solidifying its hold in one of the country’s most important provinces, according to a new report on insurgent operations along the south coast of Africa. The report reveals jihadists linked to ISIS, especially those operating under the name Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah (ASWJ), have consolidated their hold in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado region and captured the city of Mocímboa da Praia last year. The fighters are now perpetrating attacks on the Afungi peninsula, only miles from energy giant Total’s operations, and targeting lines of communication and overrunning government outposts across the region.