dpa/GNA – French energy giant Total on Sunday evacuated around 1,000 of its workers from Mozambique’s coastal town of Palma, which is currently under siege by Islamist terrorists.
The vessel to evacuate them arrived in the port city of Pemba mid-morning on Sunday, said Mozambican Secretary of State Armindo Ngunga.
About 100 suspected members of an insurgent group known as both Al-Shabaab and Al-Sunna wa Jama’a, which has links to the Islamic State, launched its attack on the gas-rich town of Palma in the volatile Cabo Delgado province on Wednesday.
Palma is located in a region where Total is leading a 20-billion-dollar foreign investment project at its liquefied natural gas (LNG) plant on the Afungi peninsula.
The project was halted in January due to ongoing insecurity and an escalating insurgency.
“The latest attack on Palma is a major setback … and raises serious questions about its ability to guarantee the security of LNG projects vital to the country’s long-term financial stability,” said Alexander Raymakers, senior Africa analyst at Verisk Maplecroft.
An unknown number of residents have been killed in the insurgency, while hundreds have fled the violence, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Several witnesses told HRW they saw bodies on the streets and residents fleeing after the terrorists fired indiscriminately at people and buildings.
Mobile phone signal has been disrupted, making it harder to obtain information about the situation.