A trickle of Mozambican families started to return to their homes and villages after a joint force of Mozambican and Rwandan troops regained control of a strategic port from Islamist fighters.
After retaking Mocimboa da Praia earlier this week, leaders of the joint force of Mozambican military and 1,000 Rwandan army troops said they would be chasing the insurgents and seeking to establish peace and stability in the northern Cabo Delgado province.
The retaking of Mocimboa da Praia is a notable success for the Rwandan force that deployed to Mozambique last month.
Rwanda’s troops have rapidly helped Mozambique’s armed forces achieve victories against the insurgents, who have created a humanitarian emergency in northern Cabo Delgado province and its surrounding areas.
Before the Rwandan forces arrived, Mozambique’s military and police had not succeeded in stemming the insurgents’ offensives.
More than 3,000 Mozambicans have been killed and 800,000 people displaced by the four-year insurgency.
Nearly 1 million people need urgent food aid as a result of the conflict, according to the UN World Food Program.
Earlier this year the insurgents, loosely allied to the Islamic State group, forced the French energy firm Total to pull out of its $20 billion liquified natural gas project near Palma, further north on the Indian Ocean coastline.
Mozambican media report that the financing for the Rwandan troops’ mission in Mozambique is coming from France.
The joint Mozambican and Rwandan force is visibly in control of Mocimboa da Praia, patrolling public and private buildings, the port, the airport, the hospital, markets and restaurants.
Mocimboa da Praia port is key to transporting supplies to other parts of Cabo Delgado province, including the liquified natural gas project.