MAPUTO – Police in Mozambique said Tuesday they had detained 52 people after a string of attacks on police stations, in which 14 attackers were gunned down and two officers killed.
Police also backed away from an earlier claim that the gunmen were linked to homegrown "Islamic extremist sects", saying they were not connected to any organised terror group.
Mayor of Nampula, MDM's Mahumudo Amurane, a fierce fighter against corruption, shot dead in front of his house, on Mozambique's Peace Day pic.twitter.com/eKLPMDdhkb— Zenaida Machado (@zenaidamz) October 4, 2017
"Nothing can make us say there is a connection between the attackers and terrorist groups," police spokesman Inacio Dina told reporters.
"Among those detained are the perpetrators and others who contributed to the logistics of the attack, providing food, shelter and other support."
The attacks occurred on Thursday and Friday in the sleepy town of Mocimboa de Praia in the north of the country near the border with Tanzania, where three police stations were targeted, local media said.
Fourteen of the attackers and two police officers were killed. One local man also died.
Police said they were still investigating the motive, adding that the armed attackers were from different parts of Cabo Delgado province.
Authorities and analysts have dismissed claims of links to Somalia's Shabaab jihadists or Boko Haram in Nigeria.
BREAKING: Local reports suggest al-Shabaab-aligned gunmen attacked a police station in Mocimboa da Praia, Mozambique https://t.co/YVxiiRINhs— Ryan Cummings (@Pol_Sec_Analyst) October 5, 2017
"It's clearly homegrown and a response to local issues," Alex Vines from the London-based Chatham House think tank told AFP.
"This is a wake-up call for Mozambique and unless inequality and youth unemployment and education is improved, we may see more of this."
Police dispatched special forces from Pemba, 500 kilometres (300 miles) away, to stop the attacks.
Armed clashes and assassinations of politicians are not uncommon in Mozambique, where on-and-off clashes have occurred in recent years between government troops and armed militias loyal to opposition party and former rebel movement Renamo.