Dozens of people have been killed in attacks by Islamic extremists in a town in northern Mozambique, officials said.
Hundreds of militants attacked Parma on Wednesday, targeting shops, banks and military barracks.
Defense ministry spokesman Omar Salanga said seven people were killed trying to escape the hotel’s siege.
The militants associated with Islamic State (IS) groups are primarily behind conflicts in Muslim areas.
Since the rebellion began in 2017, the fighting has killed more than 2,500 people and displaced 700,000 people.
Hundreds of people, both locals and foreigners, were reportedly rescued from Parma after the attack.
Witnesses say they are hiding on a beach littered with headless corpses while waiting to be rescued by boat.
Maritime transportation websites showed a series of ships around the town and the port of Pemba in the south when people tried to escape by means of freighters, passenger ships, tugs, entertainment ships and more.
Parma is near a major gas project run by French energy giant Total, with more than 100 workers and civilians evacuated to the town of Amarula Parma Hotel.
“Last Wednesday, a group of terrorists sneaked into Parma and began action that resulted in the timid killing of dozens of defenseless people,” Defense Ministry spokesman Saranga said at a press conference on Sunday.
What do we know about rescue?
A contractor told the BBC that many who escaped the hotel via the fleet hid on the beach overnight on Friday and evacuated by boat on Saturday morning.
He said more people would be delivered safely after him and the boat would return for further rescue.
He said civilians living and working in the area seemed to coordinate rescue operations.
“Local suppliers and businesses, these people were heroes of all operations. They managed to reach out to the beach evacuees and take them on a boat to a safe place.”
“Where was the support from big companies and countries?” He asked.
A South African man is known to be among the dead.
Adrian Nell was killed in an attempt to escape, his mother Merrill Knox told the BBC.
Her husband, Gregory, managed to make it from Parma-although she told AFP that he had to carry the body of their dead son until he was rescued. Her other son was also able to escape.
But when they fled, Ms. Knox said, “There is no army to protect them … it was a matter of’running for your life’.”
“This may have been avoided,” she added. “My son may still be alive today.”
A source close to the rescue operation told AFP on Sunday afternoon that a boat with about 1,400 people had arrived in the port town of Pemba, about 250 km (155 miles) south of Parma.
What is the current situation in Parma?
The exact number of casualties in the town of Parma, which is about 75,000 on Cape Delgado, is unknown. Many have not yet been explained.
According to Col Lionel Dyke, a private security company Dyck Advisory Group has contracted with the Mozambique police in the area, the towns and beaches are littered with “heady and non-headed” bodies.
Armed groups are reported to have dominated Parma, but it is difficult to confirm these claims in the midst of communication blackouts.
Hundreds of people fled the battle and hit forests, mangroves, or nearby villages.
Some escaped the hotel on Friday with a car convoy and headed for a nearby beach. At least 20 people reportedly flew safely by helicopter, while others were ambushed outside the hotel.
There are unconfirmed reports that British citizens were involved in the siege of the hotel.
A company, RA International, told the BBC that it had not yet found the British people at the Amarula Hotel during the attack. According to the company, employees last contacted us on Friday afternoon. Seven local staff arrived safely.
James Dudridge, Under Secretary of State for Africa in the British Parliament, tweeted that the government was contacting British people in the region to provide assistance, adding: People in Mozambique against terrorism. “