visual explanation

Mozambique: Following the rise of Islamist group al-Shabab in Cabo Delgado

By Marie Toulemonde

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Posted on April 12, 2021 10:02


The seizure of Mozambique’s key port of Palma by jihadist militants has marked an unprecedented turning point in this conflict impacting southern Africa. Our infographics explain how it all began.

Even with reinforcements in the form of Russian and South African mercenaries, the Mozambican armed forces seems powerless and incapable of holding back the advance of jihadist fighters from al-Shabab, an insurgent group that has an unclear affiliation with the Islamic State (IS) and is not related to Al-Shabab in Somalia.

On 24 March, its militants seized the key port of Palma in the province of Cabo Delgado, near Tanzania, in north-eastern Mozambique.


The latest dramatic offensive has cast a harsh light on al-Shabab’s ultra-violent modus operandi and led the Mozambican government to call on the international community for assistance as it continues to confront the militant group’s insurgency, which has been on the rise since 2017.

Portugal pledged to send a team of military personnel to help train Mozambican forces, while the United States said it is “determined” to cooperate with the government of Mozambique. On 1 April, the African Union (AU) called for an “urgent and coordinated regional and international action”.

The origins of al-Shabab

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