Mozambique town deserted after ISIL attack
Deadly assault on Palma is the biggest escalation in violence that has wreaked havoc across northern Mozambique.
Mozambique security forces are battling a prolonged deadly assault on the key northern town of Palma by fighters linked to ISIL (ISIS).
The town was all but deserted nearly a week after the raid was launched, its residents fleeing by road, boat or on foot.
The attackers stormed the town last Wednesday, intensifying an armed uprising that has spread across northern Mozambique since 2017.
Dozens of people, according to the ISIL and the authorities, were killed in what witnesses describe as a coordinated attack, and an unknown number of them are still missing.
It is the biggest and closest raid to a multibillion-dollar gas project being built on a peninsula just 10km (6 miles) away by France’s Total and other energy giants.
Many survivors said they walked for days to seek refuge in Mueda, 180km (112 miles) to the south.
“Many people fell from fatigue and were unable to continue walking, especially the elderly and children,” said one escapee in Mueda who did not wish to be named.