In what looks like a major setback for oil giant Total preparing to return to the area, terrorists have attacked Afungi, a location close to where the $20bn liquefied natural gas (LNG) project is planned in northern Mozambique.
Joe Hanlon, a journalist and development researcher, reports that there were coordinated attacks by several groups, which hit suburbs and a nearby village. Fighting blocked the road from Palma to Afungi. Palma is just 6km from the airstrip and main gate of the Afungi [LNG] construction site.
He further states that “Initial reports are that insurgents first attacked the police station on the coastal side of Palma, and then moved into the town and the business park, where they reportedly robbed the BIM and Standard banks. Fighting was also reported near the Amarula Hotel on the northern side of the town. There are both army and police bases in Palma and there has been fighting,”
Total had recently announced its readiness to re-engage with the project, having pulled out when militants attacked on December 31, 2020.
Armed insurgency targeting Cabo Delgado Province has raged on for four years causing many deaths and leaving many internally displaced. Major gas discoveries have been made in recent years in the area.
The insurgency is led by Ansar al-Sunna – also known as Al-Shabaab – a group that pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in 2019 and who is increasing attacks in this predominantly Muslim region.
The coastal town of Mocimboa da Praia temporarily fell into the control of the militants following intense fighting against the army on August 12, 2020. This port located 80km south of the Afungi Peninsula is used by the oil companies and their subsidiaries. Total took over the LNG project – Mozambique LNG from Anadarko in September 2019.