BY TAPFUMANEI MUCHABAIWA
TWO Zimbabweans who went missing after they were kidnapped by the jihadist terror group in Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique, are still to be located, the Foreign Affairs ministry told NewsDay yesterday.
In November last year, a Zimbabwean family based in neighbouring Mozambique appealed for government assistance to facilitate the release of its two family members who were kidnapped by Islamist insurgents in Palma, Cabo Delgado, in Mozambique’s northern province nine months ago.
The missing pair, Mariana Francisco and Monica Zvinanetsi, are yet to be located after they were abducted. Fears for their safety escalated after the insurgents were repelled by the intervention of the Rwandan and Sadc forces.
Foreign Affairs ministry spokesperson Livit Mugejo told NewsDay that efforts were still underway to locate their whereabouts and bring them back.
“The situation is still the same, they haven’t been found. Sadc forces, including Zimbabwean trainers, are still operating in the area,” Mugejo said.
“Efforts are still ongoing to find our missing nationals.”
Meanwhile, Mozambique police general Commander Bernardino Rafael told a local radio station that Mozambican and Rwandan forces killed one jihadist leader Tuahil Muhidim on Saturday morning.
Muhidim was accused of leading an attack that captured Mocimboa da Praia, the northern port used to receive cargo for multi-billion-dollar gas projects in the region.
“Tuahil Muhidim died at 10:30am on Saturday. He had been wanted by security forces for a series of crimes. Muhidim commanded the attack on Mocimboa da Praia. He also kidnapped two Brazilian nuns.
“In the same operation, security forces shot dead another insurgent and recovered two guns. Security forces’ operations are having an effect. The terrorists are weakened,” Rafael said, while also claiming that seven insurgent leaders had been killed in the last two months.
Recent reports say that violence in the region has led to the death of approximately 3 700 people since 2017, among them were 1 613 civilians. About 820 000 have fled the province in terror.
Rwandan forces last week also allowed journalists a rare visit to see how life was slowly returning to normal to some of the hardest-hit areas in Cabo Delgado.
The terrorist insurgency has been characterised by grisly decapitations, arson attacks and kidnappings, especially of young girls.
Most of the attacks were in northern Mozambique, near the Tanzanian border, and they were marked by beheadings and the torching of entire villages.
Last month, Sadc leaders met in Lilongwe, Malawi, for a two-day extraordinary summit of heads of State and government, where they concurred to extend the mission to quash the terrorism activities.