ISIS seemed to have been effectively eliminated under President Trump’s administration.
Now, under Biden’s regime, they have wasted no time making a comeback in Mozambique and bragging about killing “dozens of Christians and Mozambicans” in a large and bloody attack this week. Hundreds of them worked for or with French energy giant, Total. And, while thousands have fled the city of Palma due to the attacks, government forces and Total have refused to help stem the violence, according to people close to the matter.
“The Islamic State has bragged of ‘killing dozens of Mozambican armed forces and the Christians’ in a days-long assault near a major gas plant in the country’s northeast.
ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement issued by its Amaq news agency on Monday alongside a photo of militants from the group celebrating the capture of the town of Palma.
Scores of people have been killed, including one British contractor, and dozens of expats remain unaccounted for following the attack, which began last Wednesday.
A contractor from Somerset who worked at a hotel in the area is among the missing and a friend has said he fears he has been killed.
Philip Mawer has not been seen or heard from since gunmen ambushed a convoy of vehicles fleeing a hotel on Friday.
His friend Peter Zweemer told The Sun that the French oil giant Total, whose employees Mawer was reportedly helping to build a camp for left its workers to be ‘slaughtered’.
‘As far as I know and from eye witness accounts, unfortunately, we have to assume Phil got killed Friday.
‘There is still no access into Palma to recoup bodies or asses damages and missing people do appear under the most amazing circumstances but I’m afraid the news about Phil is not encouraging.
‘It’s a shambles and they allowed these contractors to be slaughtered.’
Tales of horror began to emerge on Tuesday as some survivors made it to safety and established contact with loved ones.
A small UN plane carrying adults and children – including an injured one-year-old baby – arrived on Monday at the airport in Pemba, the provincial capital where many survivors have been evacuated to.
According to Portugal’s Lusa news agency, a bullet hit the baby’s leg while he was in his mother’s arms as they ran from the rebels.
ISIS has alleged that 55 people have been killed but this has not been independently verified.
A South African private security firm has been hired by the government to battle the militants and search for survivors of the brutal assault, which has left streets and beaches strewn with decapitated bodies.
Lionel Dyck, who runs the Dyck Advisory Group, told The Times that his staff have been collecting survivors and dead bodies while exchanging gunfire with insurgents.
At least seven people, including an unnamed British contractor, are known to have been killed when a convoy from a hotel was ambushed by waiting militants.
The Amarula Lodge had become a refuge for 190 residents and locals but evacuation plans were complicated as the insurgents drew nearer.
Sea evacuation plans were thwarted as militants patrolled the hotel’s beach. Twenty-five people had been airlifted out by Thursday but the following day the insurgents advanced, making rescue by air impossible.
‘They were panicking that they would not survive another night, there was no one coming to get them, Johann Anderson, who was communicating with the group from a secured area owned by French energy giant Total, told The Times.
Some sixty people left in a convoy of 17 vehicles that was ambushed on Friday. Only seven of the vehicles made it past the militants who appeared to be waiting for them.
The fate of those in the cars that did manage to escape, and the 100 people who remained at the lodge, is unknown.
Zweemer, a logistics consultant based in Pemba told The Sun that workers had been encouraged to seek refuge in the hotel, which was later stormed by insurgents.
‘Hotel Amarula was the place where they were to go to if there was an emergency as its strategically near Palma airstrip and near two possible evacuation beaches.
‘There was however no real armed security there and because bad communication on an earlier evacuation failed, a plane could not land and there were no vessel on the beach to pick them up.
‘Therefore they spent another 24 hours in the hotel. When the insurgents attacked another camp (Bonati ENI) 150 metres away they decided to try another evacuation on themselves to get to the northern beaches.
‘Unfortunately the insurgents lay in wait and opened fire. Some cars made it out some got abandoned and people run into the bush, some went back to hotel.'”
Some members of the convoy managed to escape and crawled through bush for 2 days before being rescued. However, some including Mawer, are still missing and many are dead.
“A South African woman, Meryl Knox, said that her son Adrian Nel died in the attack.
Her husband Gregory and another son, Wesley, hid with Adrian’s body in the bush until the following morning, when they were able to make it to safety in Pemba, she told Reuters.
‘He died on a very violent and unnecessary day,’ Knox told AFP.
…Thousands of survivors were evacuated by boat or plane on Sunday, with witnesses forced to wait on beaches strewn with headless bodies after decapitations by the militants.
Battles are continuing between the insurgents and a private security company.
Dyck told the BBC that the terrorists currently had the upper hand.
‘My guys are engaging these terrorists in skirmishes. The terrorists have taken cover in houses, which is what they always do. They come out and shoot at the aircraft, and they have hit and shot at our aircraft often.
‘Until we put sufficient troops in there to clear them out of the houses of Palma they will remain in control,’ Dyck said.
Mozambican government sources quoted by the state news agency said the insurgents have been driven out of Palma and were fleeing towards the Tanzanian border, the BBC reported.
Dyck accused the French energy giant Total, which operates a £14billion gas site nearby of refusing to help in rescue efforts.
‘We are struggling with fuel supplies but when we approached Total to get some help with that we were turned down,’ he said.
‘The survivors and many of the dead bodies we are picking up were in Palma as subcontractors to their gas site, so it is surprising that they are not more willing to help.'”
Instead of helping out, an energy company “spokeswoman told The Times that the company’s Mozambique site had no relationship with private contractors. ”
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The Daily Mail continues:
With communications cut, Nel’s father got hold of a satellite phone and told Knox of plans to evacuate them from the besieged hotel where food was beginning to run low.
A convoy of cars was ready to take them to safety.
‘As they were leaving, they were ambushed. They shot my son,’ Knox said.
‘There’s no way to possibly describe what you feel when you get news like that.
‘It’s just devastating, body numbing, mind numbing.’
Six other people were killed during the ambush.
Knox has no details of the exact nature of the attack that claimed her son’s life
Her youngest son will return to South Africa on the first available flight while her husband will wait to complete formalities to bring the remains of their son home.
Nel’s body is at a morgue in Pemba.
When discussing her son’s death, Knox told Sky News:
‘When they were driving out unfortunately the insurgents ambushed them and my son was shot.
‘I learnt on Friday night that people had been killed as they tried to leave the hotel. We didn’t hear who had been killed.
‘It was only on Saturday morning that I got news that unfortunately it was Adrian.’
The Daily Mail goes on:
Families and contractors have been scathing regarding the apparent lack of support from governments and large companies.
A contractor told the BBC that local companies and suppliers carried out the rescue operation.
‘In the wee hours they managed to co-ordinate and reach out to the evacuees on the beach and got them on to boats and got them into safety.’
…Knox has said the South African government’s response also fell short of expectations.
‘There wasn’t any support from our government until we phoned them and asked them what’s happening and why isn’t anybody helping people stranded there,’ she told the BBC.
‘…Where the hell was the support from big companies, from countries?’ he said.
Calls to officials at the foreign ministry and provincial government went unanswered or did not go through on Sunday.
The boats arriving in Pemba on Sunday carried both locals and foreigners, including employees from the gas projects, the aid official and diplomat said. One boat was carrying around 1,300 people, said the diplomat.
French energy group Total said on Saturday it was calling off a planned resumption of construction at its development following the attack and would reduce its workforce to a ‘strict minimum’.
The company pulled out the majority of its workforce in January due to insecurity in Cabo Delgado province, which has been the target of an insurgency linked to Islamic State since 2017.
Government-contracted helicopters were searching for more survivors. Dyck said his helicopters had rescued at least 17 people on Sunday.
The number of people injured and killed in the five-day assault on Palma, or still unaccounted for, remains unclear.
The town had previously been a refuge for people fleeing violence elsewhere in the province.