As reported by Catherine Byarhanga and Kaila Hermansen, survivors of recent Islamic extremist attacks on Parma in northeastern Mozambique talk about how they escaped in bullets and mortar ammunition. Was there.
Eusebio Alvespint had just finished the shift at the Amarula Hotel when he saw people flee towards the site.
“I asked them what was going on. They said the situation wasn’t good,” he told the local TV station TVM.
“Then I started hearing the gunshot after the gunshot.” He went back inside.
This was the beginning of a well-coordinated attack on Parma that began on March 24th.
The postcard-beautiful town itself has already embraced thousands of people who have fled violence in the surrounding area. The Cabodelgado region in the north of the country has been hit by rebellions over the last four years.
It was besieged and ran out of food.
The town’s infrastructure is poorly developed, but one of Africa’s largest investment projects, just 10 km (6 miles) away, was under construction.
When completed, a $ 20 billion (£ 14.5 billion) liquefied natural gas plant will help process offshore reserves.
Despite Parma’s uncertain peace, both foreign and Mozambican workers and contractors regularly jumped in to develop the project.
The focus of the attack, Amarula, was located on several acres of land and was popular with these contract workers.
However, when the so-called Islamic State-related militants were indicted by locals in nearby Parma, they also searched for shelter there.
Initially, people on the premises were able to receive messages to family and friends about what was happening, but telephone and internet connections were cut off.
Richard Davis, who changed his name to protect his identity, is a South African contractor, usually based in Pemba, the capital of the region.
He believed that 190 people had been evacuated to Amarula, adding that the “majority” were locals.
Davis explained how the plane arrived after arriving in Parma hours before the attack began and he had to take off again immediately due to gunshots.
The government states that militants are attacking the town from three directions, including an airfield.
On the first day, Davis remembers hearing, “I was listening to this battle day and night. The next day, a mortar landed on our fence and a bullet hit the hotel.”
Fighters from the Dyck Advisory Group, a private security company hired by the Mozambican government to fight armed groups, were fighting them near the hotel.
Davis was one of the lucky ones.
On Thursday he and 19 others were airlifted from the hotel by helicopter. It is impossible to extract everyone in the same way.
In Johannesburg, South Africa, 21-year-old Gracie Alexander told the BBC about a message he received from his father, Nick Alexander, who ran a construction company in Parma.
Alexander was also at the Amarula Hotel.
“He sent a video of the shooting that was happening, and he told us that he was just praying for him and that he wanted to evacuate as soon as possible,” he said. Said her daughter.
Despaired for two days by the fire and scarce food and water, the remaining 170 people were taken by convoy from Amarula to a nearby beach and by boat to Pemba, where Davis helped coordinate. It was. Rescue activities.
“They decided they had to do it and at least tried it,” he said.
“There was one armored vehicle (10-seater behind) that packed all the women and children in the village.”
About 17 cars left the hotel, but soon the convoy was attacked. 10 cars did not arrive at the beach.
Mr. Pinto, a hotel worker, was in the convoy and felt lucky to bring it to life.
“When I left the hotel, I saw a corpse. Many people died,” he said.
Nelson Matra, who worked in Parma, was also hiding in Amarula and involved in an ambush.
“It was a slaughter. None of us want to go back there.”
The Mozambique government said the incident killed at least seven people, but Mr. Matla said the numbers were much higher.
“Not just seven! Many died and some foreign colleagues died at the exit.”
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Alexander’s father Nick later learned that he had escaped from the convoy.
“When the ambush happened, he jumped from the convoy and returned to the hotel. Then he found a gun and ran across the street into the bush, just staying hidden.”
Two days later he was discovered by a helicopter looking for a survivor-for the immeasurable relief of his family.
“He found a satellite phone he was using only to tell us that he was alive. He was just weeping. He thought he would never see us again.” Said Alexander.
Those who arrived at the beach had to spend the night hiding from the attackers.
South Africans Greg Knox and Wesleynell were among the people on the beach. They managed to get Adrian Nell’s body back-Knox’s stepson and Nell’s brother.
Nell’s mother, Merrill Knox, told the BBC that they were left to their own defense during the attack on Parma.
“You can imagine. I don’t have an army to protect them, I don’t have any weapons, so either run away for your life or face these rebels … this may have been avoided, my son May still be alive today. “
“Where was the support?”
It is believed that he was killed while driving one of the convoy’s vehicles.
Davis is still furious.
“Where did the support come from the big companies, from the country? That’s not right. It’s shameful. There were more casualties than it should have been,” he said.
By Saturday morning, the first boat to rescue survivors on the beach had begun sailing south to Pemba, about 250 km (150 miles). They were placed by civilians, some were freighters passing through Parma, and they decided to help. I heard about a person who is suffering.
People with their own horror stories have still reached Pemba.
Mariamo Tagil, who lost her son in Parma, arrived on Thursday on a ferry carrying more than 1,000 people.
“I’m very tired, it was 7 days [in] She told Reuters, “We’ve crossed the road several times with bad guys. The situation is really bad. Many dead, many dead.”
She has joined thousands of other displaced persons in the city, including Mr. Pinto.
“I’m empty-handed,” he said. “I don’t know if my house or other belongings were on fire. I didn’t do anything.”