Parma, a town in Mozambique that has been “reclaimed” by extremist Islamists

Internally displaced persons arrive in Pemba on April 1, 2021 from a boat of displaced persons from the coast of Parma.

Thousands of people fled coastal towns after the outbreak of conflict

Mozambique troops say they have regained full control of the coastal town of Parma more than a week after being attacked by extremist Islamists.

A military spokesman said a “significant” number of militants were killed in a counterattack.

State radio reported that fleeing residents are beginning to return-some return to looted homes.

Dozens of civilians were killed and at least 11,000 were evacuated after the militants invaded Parma on March 24.

South African and British citizens have been one of those killed in one of the biggest attacks by militants in the province of Cabo del Gado in northern Mozambique since the rebellion in the region in 2017.

Communication with the town, which has a population of about 75,000, has been lost.

The militants, locally known as al-Shabaab, have pledged allegiance to Islamic State (IS) groups.

Their attack on Parma interrupted a multi-billion dollar natural gas project in Ahungi, a short distance from the town, to the energy giant Total.

Taken between March 24th and March 27th, 2021 and obtained by Reuters on March 30th, this photo was taken at a hotel in Parma, where many locals and foreigners were hiding during the attack on Mozambique. You can see a message asking for help on the premises of.  , 2021.

A message asking for help was seen on the grounds of the Amarula Hotel in Parma

Total withdrew staff on Friday, but the United Nations suspended flights to evacuate civilians due to safety concerns.

Brigadier General Chongo Vidigal, an Army spokesman, said the gas plant was safe and Palma is now “safe.”

“The airfield area was the only area we needed to clear, and we did it [on Sunday].. It’s completely safe. “

In the first footage from Parma after the attack, state television broadcasts images of soldiers placing black plastic sheets on the dead on the street, reports Josetembe of the BBC in the capital Maputo.

Some residents were reported to have returned, but the streets were almost uninhabited.

The town’s hospitals, commercial banks, and public prosecutors offices were all destroyed, our reporter added.

Cape Delgado Governor Valgitauabo visited Parma on Sunday and promised to help rebuild people’s lives.

“We are now taking the next step, as important as reclaiming the town, which will welcome the community that has fled to the bushes,” said Brig Vigigal.

Thousands of people fled by boat to Pemba, the capital of Cabo del Gado.

The fear of a rebellion

Analysis by Jose Tembe, BBC News, Maputo

Many wonder why the military took about 10 days to regain full control of Parma.

This suggests that militants are becoming stronger and government forces are struggling to contain the rebellion.

South African private security company Dyck Advisory Group has helped the military fight militants, but the government has not officially acknowledged its involvement and reports have suspended the contract.

A regional organization, the Southern African Development Community (SADC), will discuss the rebellion at a meeting later this week, fearing a widespread rebellion.

The Mozambique government has resisted the need to deploy regional troops. Many scholars agree with the decision, stating that the deployment of regional troops can complicate the situation, and some of its troops can even collude with militants.

Instead, it demanded that the army be trained and resourced to fight militants-an unspecified number of US military instructors are already in Mozambique for this purpose.

Portugal, a former colonial nation, also said it would send about 60 troops in the coming weeks to provide training.

Map of Mozambique

Map of Mozambique