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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Mozambique's security forces engaged in a "tense" battle with ISIS-linked militants on Thursday to try to regain control of a port in a gas-rich northern province, Defence Minister Jaime Neto said.
Mr Neto was speaking a day after the insurgents staged an early-morning attack and captured the port town of Mocimboa da Praia.
"At this moment, the defence and security forces are trying to control the situation," he said in the capital Maputo. "However, it remains tense and fluid."
Mr Neto said the militants, in plain clothing, infiltrated various neighbourhoods before unleashing terror, looting and killing government troops and civilians.
The assault was the latest in a string of intensifying attacks that have plagued the country's northern region since 2017.
Authorities in Mozambique's defence forces confirmed that "terrorists" had launched "sequenced attacks" on villages surrounding the port over the past week.
Striking Mocimboa da Praia for a third time this year, the attack was orchestrated near thesite of natural gas projects worth billions of dollars.
Mocimboa da Praia is less than 80 kilometres south of the Afungi peninsula where a liquefied natural gas plant, one of Africa's biggest single investment projects, is located.
The port in the Cabo Delgado province is a major export centre for the gas project.
Calton Cadeado, a researcher at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Maputo, said Mozambique needed the help of neighbouring countries to fight the militants.
"I understand that Mozambique is hesitant to ask for support from countries like the United States, France or the United Kingdom due to the high bill it may have to pay," Mr Cadeado said.
"But it should ask for help from countries in the region, such as Tanzania, which has not yet happened."
Mr Neto said: "At the moment, the terrorists do not control any area of the national territories."
He said he would not allow Cabo Delgado to descend into a state of "disorder, chaos and violation of the most basic human rights".
The attacks have killed more than 1,500 people and displaced more than 250,000, the Acled Data Project said.
The attacks started in 2017 in Mocimboa da Praia and have since spread to large areas of Cabo Delgado.
The latest attack was claimed by IS Central Africa Province.
Updated: August 14, 2020 01:35 AM
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