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MIxTRAC: Armed Assault in Mozambique, Italian Priest kidnapped from Parish in Niger, IED Explodes in Philippines

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The information, data and findings from the below brief was collected by and sourced from TRAC: Terrorism Research & Analysis Consortium, in partnership with the Mackenzie Institute. Please click here to visit TRAC.

Armed Assault in Mozambique, Italian Priest kidnapped from Parish in Niger, IED Explodes in Philippines

Suspected Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jamo/Ansar al-Sunna (Shabaab) fighters launch armed assault on the village of Pequeu in the Macomia district of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique, (20 September, 2018)

On 20 September 2018, suspected Shabaab fighters executed their deadliest attack yet on the village of Pequeu in the Macomia district of Cabo Delgado in Mozambique. During the attack, 12 people were killed and 55 houses were destroyed by arson. Ten of those killed were shot, and one was subsequently beheaded.

This is the fifth verified attack since the beginning of September, and indicates renewed activities by the Shabaab fighters. A concerning trend on its own, it is yet magnified with reports of increased sophistication in the weapons used. For the time being, attacks remain confined to the Cabo Delgado region in Mozambique.

Location of the village in the coastal area of Quiterajo:

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Despite the recent reinforcements of the Mozambique Defence Armed Forces (FADM) in the Cabo Delgado Province, it has become clear that the FADM still do not have the capacity nor the ability to effectively deal with the insurgency. Some of the issues faced by the FADM include the following:

  1. Severe Budgetary constraints: Despite earlier warnings of a possible Militant threat in the Cabo Delgado Province, the first attacks in October 2017 caught the FADM by surprise. Within the FADM structures there were no contingency plans in place for an event of this nature and it significantly increased the pressures and demands on an already overburdened FADM logistical support structure.
  1. Lack of an effective logistical system: This issue is linked to the Budgetary constraints. Under normal circumstances the FADM logistical support system lacked the capacity to maintain a regular supply of commodities (Food, munition, salaries, rotation of personnel, medical support, etc.) to its forces deployed across the country. Thus its operations are significantly hampered due to these constraints.
  1. Lack of capacity within the FADM / PRM: A large portion of the FADM forces deployed in Cabo Delgado Province are young, inexperienced recruits that have just completed their military training, and entering combat deployment for the first time. Several of these soldiers are from the Maputo and Gaza Provinces, thus communication with the locals is problematic as they speak do not speak the local languages or dialects. The limitations of the FADM have been previously demonstrated through its inability to deal with the Renamo problem over the period 2014 – 2016, where most of the Renamo soldiers were middle-aged and concentrated in Gorongoza.
  1. Lack of effective aerial support: This is a major concern, as FADM units are operating without any aerial support. There are also major serviceability issues within the Air Force, causing aircraft and helicopter support during ground offensives and operations to be intermittent or absent altogether.

 The current security situation in the Cabo Delgado Province in Mozambique can be described as precarious at best. TRAC sources are reporting widespread fear and terror among the locals. Villages are abandoned at night for fear of attacks by Shabaab Cult cells linked to Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jamo/Ansar al-Sunna. Beginning in October 2017, in the area of Mocimboa da Praia in the Cabo Delgado region, the Shabaab Cult has been peppering remote regions with an escalating series of attacks. Since the government has been unable to protect them, locals have resorted to seeking refuge at night in the areas surrounding their villages. Local lodges and guesthouses are also forced to go into lockdown at night, and those with the financial resources have been employing private guards armed with shotguns. While the reason for these attacks remain unknown, those responsible for these brutal attacks have gained a mythical reputation among the local population.

Italian priest, Father Pierluigi Maccalli, of the Society of African Missions (SMA) kidnapped in the parish of Bomoanga, Niger (near the border with Burkina Faso; 125 km from Niamey), (18 September, 2018)

On 17 September 2017 at 9:30 a.m. local time, an unknown number of armed gunmen entered the residence of Father Pierluigi Maccalli and kidnapped him. They also took both his computer and phone, while a colleague of his escaped the attack.  The Parish of Bomoanga had been well aware of threats in the area and police warnings.  The parish had already enacted a self-imposed curfew not to travel after dark or leave the mission.  The mission is located in a very isolated area, without many roads, few telephone land lines and even fewer cell phone towers. The mission addresses issues of wide-spread poverty, illiteracy and lack of water supplies in the area.

It is likely that Father Maccalli was taken across the border into Burkina Faso.  Since February 2018 there have been at least 20 attacks in the eastern region of Burkina Faso. Though it is unclear if this escalation of attacks in the area are by new cells or through an expansion of existing groups; what is clear is the new militancy is taking advantage of the absence of the state authority in the area. 

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Islamic State East Asia (ISEA/ Maute): IED Explodes at Barbecue Stand Near near Bonita Lying-in Clinic along the Makar-Marbel Road at Crossing Makar, Barangay Labangal, General Santos City, Cotabato, Philippines, (16 September, 2018)

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On 16 September 2018 at around 12:45 p.m., seven civilians including a three-year-old child were wounded in an explosion at a barbecue stand near near Bonita Lying-in Clinic along the Makar-Marbel Road at Crossing Makar, Barangay Labangal, General Santos City. The victims were identified as Marlon Orabia, 30, Jerry Guyos, 19, Felipa Regidor, 64, Lally Jean Alipio, 34, John Calang, 22 Claire Uozolam, 24, and a three-year-old child. Witnesses saw two unidentified men leave a package at a barbecue stall, which went off minutes after they left. Prior intelligence reports identified Gensan, Midsayap, Koronadal and Cotabato as cities targeted by the pro-Daesh Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in its plan to sow terror throughout south-central Mindanao and as retaliation for recent combat losses with the military in Maguindanao and elsewhere.

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The above has been compiled by Alexander Sawicki, an Undergraduate Teaching Assistant for the Department of History at Ryerson University, specializing in the interplay between technological innovation, warfare, and social change throughout history. He was formerly a Research Analyst for the NATO Association of Canada (NAOC), where he published articles that dealt with cyber-security, US-Russia relations, and Canadian Military Procurement. You can find Alexander on LinkedIn.

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