The Southern African Development Community (SADC), a regional bloc of 16 countries, approved the extension Tuesday of the deployment of a regional force fighting terrorists in northern Mozambique, according to a statement.
The bloc deployed a regional standby force to a mission in Mozambique on July 15 this year which is mandated to combat acts of terrorism and violent extremism there.
The mission’s mandate was set to expire on Oct. 15, 2021. But a SADC Extraordinary Organ Troika Summit held in Pretoria on Tuesday saw members agree to extend it so that troops can create a conducive environment for the resettlement of the population and facilitate humanitarian assistance operations and sustainable development.
An armed militant group believed to be affiliated with the Daesh/ISIS terrorist group has been attacking towns and wreaking havoc in northern Mozambique since 2017.
In late March, the group attacked the town of Palma in Cabo Delgado province, killing dozens and wounding scores of others.
The northern province of Mozambique is rich in natural gas, and companies such as France’s Total SE were to extract liquefied natural gas (LNG) from offshore sites in the Indian Ocean, but experts say such attacks have derailed the project.
The SADC summit held in Pretoria expressed its unwavering commitment to continue supporting Mozambique in achieving peace and security in some of its troubled regions.
‘‘As we deal with the security situation in support of our sister country, the Republic of Mozambique, we are confident that, like in other SADC undertakings, security and stability in Mozambique will be restored,” said South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The summit also paid condolences to the affected families and governments of Botswana and the Tanzania over the loss of three soldiers who were serving under the mission.
They also commended member states that have contributed personnel, equipment and financial resources for the deployment of troops in support of Mozambique to combat terrorism.