Mozambique attacks: what happened in the city of Palma as Isis claimed deadly attack

Southern African leaders will gather in the Mozambican capital to talk about the growing threat of terrorism

Displaced women from Palma are seen at the Pemba Sports center on April 2 where people were evacuated from the coasts of Palma after armed insurgents attacked the city on March 24. (Getty Images)
Displaced women from Palma are seen at the Pemba Sports center on April 2 where people were evacuated from the coasts of Palma after armed insurgents attacked the city on March 24. (Getty Images)

Hundreds of militants stormed the Mozambique city of Palma on March 24 leaving a trail of death and destruction.

The attacks, claimed by Isis, have resulted in the deaths of dozens of locals and tourists with a British man among them.

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It has been reported that 20,000 people are unaccounted for.

A woman rests with her baby on the ground at the Pemba Sports center that is now a shelter (Getty Images)

This is what we know about what happened in Palma.

What happened in Palma?

Isis has claimed the deadly attack on a port town in northern Mozambique that saw hundreds of people flee for their lives amid fierce fighting.

Part of the same attack also saw seven people die after a siege on a local hotel and dozens more have lost their lives after hundreds of militants stormed the town.

Seven people were killed while trying to escape the Amarula Hotel, including locals and foreigners working nearby.

Isis has since said it was behind the attack. The army has now reclaimed the area.

Banks and military barracks are among the buildings destroyed – with local witness reports claiming corpses were left strewn across beaches and roads.

Hundreds of people were rescued and reportedly flown to safety in helicopters while others left in convoy and many more fled for their lives, running for mangroves and villages.

Those in convoy were reportedly trying to reach a nearby beach to getaway by boat, with rescue efforts thought to be set up by civilians who knew the area.

Since 2017, the death toll caused by the fighting has left more than 2,500 people dead with 700,000 displaced.

What action is being taken?

In March, the Portuguese Foreign Minister said the country will send troops to the country – its former colony.

Sixty soldiers were getting ready for deployment to support the Mozambican army.

The Mozambican government invited the US military advisers to combat the uprising after the sharp increase in attacks.

The agreement between the Mozambican and US governments is for American soldiers to train local forces fighting the militants.

Southern Africa leaders will gather in the Mozambican capital of Maputo, from April 8, where they will draw up plans to counter the growing threat of terrorism across the region.

Who are the victims?

British national Philip Mawer, 59, from Somerset, is reportedly among those who was killed in the assault on the town of Palma on March 24

Sky News has said that his body was recovered from an abandoned vehicle after he tried to escape from the siege of the Amarula Hotel in a convoy.

A statement issued by his employer RA International on behalf of his family said: “Philip was an ebullient, outgoing character who had something of the lovable rogue about him.

“He had a wonderful sense of humour and could be relied on to find a humorous take on the most difficult of situations.

“The family is devastated by the loss and he will be sadly missed. We would like to acknowledge the support we have received from friends, family and Philip’s colleagues in a period of tremendous anguish.”

He had been in the east African country for 18 months, managing the building of camps for workers involved in a large natural gas project.

Independent observers estimate that over 50 people died as a result of the attacks.

Where is Palma and what has caused the conflict?

Palma is a town of about 75,000 people in Cabo Delgado province with a base for many foreign contractors.

Many of them have been working for a multibillion-dollar liquified natural gas project run by the French energy company Total.

High levels of poverty and disputes over access to land and jobs are thought to have played a part in local disputes as well as off-shore natural gas reserves being explored.

The insurgency involving Islamist militants began in 2017 – leading to large numbers of people leaving their homes in crime-ridden areas.