The attack in Mozambique threatens Africa’s largest investment
One billion dollars in gas development in Mozambique the largest investment in Africa, is a renewed threat as a result of the Islamist attack by the insurgents, forcing Total to suspend work for the second time this year.
The insurgents attacked Palma, a town 10 kilometers from the $ 20 billion project in the Cabo Delgado region, on Wednesday, killing several foreign workers on Sunday while still fighting, according to local media.
Total said on Saturday that its staff were not among the victims, but that “the top priority was to ensure the safety and security of the people working on the project.” France’s main energy company has said it will reduce its workforce to a “strict minimum” in the liquefied natural gas project.
Total had just announced that it was restarting the project after an earlier insurgent threat began its attack on Palma last week. The exact deaths are not yet known, as the road has poor communications with the area 2,700 kilometers north of the capital Maputo.
“Rehabilitation of the planned project. . . of course, it’s being suspended now, ”Total said. He declined to know how many workers were retiring.
The government of President Filipe Nyusi said last week that it had launched an attack to retake Palma, but has not provided any information since. A defense spokesman did not respond to the request.
The Cabo Delgado uprising has killed thousands of people since it began in 2017 and forced nearly 700,000 people to leave their homes in the province. Poorly equipped and trained government forces have made an effort to revive the conflict initiative.
The insurgency has gradually gained strength and has recently become a direct threat to the exploitation of huge offshore gas discoveries that have the potential to transform one of the world’s poorest nations if production begins.
ExxonMobil, a US energy group, is leading another $ 30 billion LNG project in Cape Delgado, but has yet to make a final decision to move the investment forward.
“For the first time, insurgents are particularly attacking foreigners in the ongoing fighting in Palma,” said Joseph Hanlon, an expert from Mozambique at the UK Open University. Hanlon said “the attacks will raise serious questions about the development of the $ 1 million gas liquefaction facility,” which is based in the nearby Afungi peninsula.
The insurgents carried out a previous attack around Afungi this year. Depending on the recovery of LNG development, security forces will be able to establish a cordon of at least 25 km around the LNG project. Palma is well in that area.
Analysts say it is unlikely that there will be an attack on Palma with the intention of restarting the Total LNG project and that the insurgents appear to have carried out a carefully planned attack to gather supplies and humiliate security forces.
Palma had been in a virtual state of siege in recent weeks and was filled with refugees fleeing kidnappings and beheadings. Food aid arrived recently and analysts said it could be a target for the insurgents.
Human Rights Watch reported that local residents complained that the attack was lying on the street on Wednesday and that there were heavy fighting before the phone lines were disrupted.
Over the weekend, insurgents reportedly attacked a convoy that was taking refuge in a hotel to rescue 200 workers and officials from Mozambique and abroad. Efforts were being made to save him by sea on Sunday. MarineTraffic data from the vessel’s tracking website indicated that several international vessels had been diverted to Palma.
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The South African government said on Saturday it had carried out attacks on citizens and was sending more staff to the Mozambican embassy to deal with subsequent situations.
Investigators say the uprising is rooted in local complaints about corruption and anger that remain outside the development of Mozambique’s poorest province.
Isis has claimed credit for past attacks, and this month the U.S. government said the insurgents in Cape Delgado are linked to a terrorist group around the world.
Nyusi’s government has hit it off private security contractors to supply and strengthen its forces and, in particular, to build security relations with the United States. The U.S. green cap has been trained by Mozambican soldiers.