President of Mozambique, Filipe Nyusi, on Monday, urged Islamic militants operating in parts of the northern province of Cabo Delgado to turn themselves over to the authorities or face being killed.
The leader said this after allied Rwandan, Mozambican and southern African forces pushed them out of territory they had been occupying. The Southern Africa Development Community’s (SADC) mission in Mozambique had a day earlier announced they killed a senior Islamist militant leader, Awadhi Ndanjile, along with 18 other fighters in an offensive on September 25.
Ndanjile, a religious leader instrumental in recruiting and indoctrinating members of the Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a (ASWJ), was reportedly killed on a militants base in the Nangade district of Cabo Delgado.
Speaking after a memorial service to mark 29 years of peace since the end of the country’s civil war, Nyusi warned the militants that they “have nowhere to go”.
He said, “We wanted to invite them not to wait for death. This is not the intention of the defense and security forces,” Nyusi said. “Surrender yourself … because you have nowhere to go … You are running from one forest to another being endlessly chased.”
A number of areas previously held by militants have been cleared, including the town of Mocimboa da Praia, more than a year after insurgents first seized it. Insurgent bases have also been destroyed, according to security forces.
While Nyusi said it was likely the leaders of the insurgency had fled, possibly even abroad, there was concern for those lower down the chain especially if they had been forced to join their ranks.
“We want our compatriots on our side, not the other side,” he added.