Mozambique and Tanzania are to launch joint operations to combat an Islamist insurgency under an agreement that will also see some 500 suspected insurgents extradited, Mozambique’s state-owned newspaper Noticias said on Monday.
The three-year-old insurgency is concentrated in Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, separated from Tanzania by the Rovuma River and home to gas developments worth $60 billion.
In October, however, it spilled across the border when some 300 insurgents attacked a Tanzanian village. Many of the insurgency’s recruits are also thought to come from Tanzania.
Noticias said the agreement would see the two countries launch joint operations in Mozambique and cooperate in areas like information sharing, while Tanzania will deport to Mozambique 516 suspected insurgents it has in custody.
A Mozambique police spokesman was not immediately available to confirm the details of the agreement.
However Mozambique police commander Bernardino Rafael said on private broadcaster STV after signing the accord in Tanzania at the weekend: “The agreement provides for us to work together to control the Rovuma border.” He thanked Tanzania for its willingness to cooperate.
Mozambique’s army has struggled to contain the insurgent group, known as Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama, which staged their first attack in 2017 and declared allegiance to Islamic State two years later.
Since then they have regularly beat back Mozambique’s security forces and air support from a private military group to capture and hold key locations, including the town of Mocimboa da Praia and its port, which was used for deliveries to the gas developments, only around 60 km (40 miles) away.
The government has yet to announce its recapture.
Tanzanian police said last week they had arrested an unspecified number of people for allegedly planning to join the insurgency.