Armed attacks by gangs, thought to be Islamist extremists, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado have now spread to other parts of the country.

According to a report in the newsheet Mediafax, a group of young men armed with guns and knives attacked Ilala, a coastal locality in Macomia, a district in the country’s north.

They demanded that a local fisherman ferry them to a nearby island. They slit his throat when he refused.

This comes as the first study of the extremist insurgency in Cabo Delgado’s Mocimboa da Praia district was published.

The study, drawn by Muslim cleric Sheik Saide Habibe, and researchers Joao Pereira and Salvador Forquilha, says that the group, known locally as “Al-Shabaab” or as “Al-Sunna”, first began its operations in Cabo Delgado as a religious organisation.

It then decided to set up military cells from late 2015, with its first attack carried out against police units in the district of Mocimboa da Praia, in Cabo Delgado, two years later.

Authorities quickly reasserted control of the area, but sporadic ambushes on the district’s roads and against outlying villages have continued.

The study also claims the fundamentalists can make at least $3m (£2.2m) a week from trafficking in timber, and more than $30m (£22.4m) a year from the sales of illegally mined rubies.

Sheik Habibe, who presented the study in Maputo on 23 May, did not give a source for these figures, which sounded far too high.

While rubies are small enough to be smuggled out in luggage, timber is bulky and clandestinely moving three million dollars worth a week through local ports would be difficult, requiring a large number of trucks and containers.

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