Mozambique’s army says it has regained control of the city of Palma. That city in the north of the country was attacked last week by jihadists allegedly associated with the Islamic State terror group. Dozens of people have been murdered, thousands have fled. They told horrifying stories about the massacre they had witnessed.
Correspondent Bram Vermeulen said in it NOS Radio 1 News it remains to be seen whether Palma is really safe again. Authorities led journalists through the city yesterday to demonstrate that the military is in control of the city.
“When they did the same a few days ago, the journalists came under fire,” says Vermeulen. “And the army also said before the March 24 attack that it was in control of Palma, but after that the city was overrun in no time and the military fled en masse.”
In addition, the jihadists were kept at a distance from the air by mercenaries from South Africa flying around in helicopters. That went well until the fuel ran out. “Their contract ends today,” said Vermeulen. “That means there will be no more air forces until the Mozambicans come up with something else. All of that makes the military’s promise a little shaky.”
Vermeulen has seen images showing that the city has been completely destroyed. “You see plumes of smoke everywhere. The jihadists have set banks and shops on fire, but you also see abandoned wrecks of trucks with the bodies of killed drivers next to them. They tried to flee, but were ambushed. You see that hotel guests panic with painted white paint “Help” on the grass in front of their hotel, hoping to be picked up by the mercenaries’ helicopters “