More dialogue, less force. That's the advice the International Crisis Group is giving Mozambique in dealing with its Islamist insurgency. There is still no decision on how to assist or a regional intervention. Jane Dutton spoke to the ICG's Dino Mahtani for an update on the volatility there. Courtesy #DStv403
MAPUTO - Mozambique should combine its military response to a spiralling jihadist insurgency with aid to disenchanted communities and dialogue with militants to offer them an exit from violence, the International Crisis Group (ICG) said.
The Brussels-based think tank urged Maputo to "use force wisely" in tackling the brutal campaign unfolding in its gas-rich north.
The authorities should accept outside offers of military assistance but focus on containing the insurgency and protecting displaced civilians, it said in a report.
"There needs to be an appropriate level of military support to pressure this group... to consider surrendering, but also to offer them a pathway out," its main author, Dino Mahtani, told AFP.
Mozambique would need to resolve "the set of local factors that have spurred... militants into battle" in order to stem the violence, the report stressed.
Islamic State-linked jihadists known locally as Al-Shabab have been terrorising impoverished Cabo Delgado province since 2017, ransacking villages and towns.
The conflict has claimed more than 2,800 lives, half of them civilians.
In March, fighters launched an assault on the town of Palma, overwhelming security forces and causing French energy giant Total to suspend work on a nearby gas project.
The United Nations' refugee agency on Friday said some 70,000 people had fled Palma since the attack, bringing the total number of displaced up to nearly 800,000.
Thousands are reportedly stranded "in very insecure areas around Palma with restricted humanitarian access," the UNHCR said.
"Many others" have attempted to cross into neighbouring Tanzania, it said.