Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi has granted pardon to 25 citizens who were allegedly members of a terrorist group which has been staging attacks in the northern province of Cabo Delgado since 2017.
The 25 citizens were who were pardoned in a ceremony held in Nampula province Wednesday were said to have been recruited in the districts of Memba, Nacala-Porto, Mogovolas and Mogincual with promises of employment.
Nyusi said the pardoned citizens surrendered voluntarily in response to government appeals and pressure on the ground with military intervention by Mozambique, Rwanda and Southern African Development Community (SADC).
SADC member states are Angola, Botswana, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho and Madagascar.
Others are Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The northern Cabo Delgado province has a population of 1,893,156 people spread over its 77,867km² in 16 districts.
Attacks on police stations
The attacks began in October 2017 on police stations in Mocimboa da Praia District, then spread to other districts in the northern part of Cabo Delgado, notably in Macomia, Palma and Nangade.
Islamic State-linked militants launched attacks on the north eastern coastal town of Palma on March 24, ransacked buildings and beheaded civilians.
Known locally as Al-Shabaab — but with no relation to the Somali-based terror group by the same name — the militants in Cabo Delgado have launched a series of brazen raids on towns and villages in an apparent bid to establish an Islamic caliphate.
The deadly insurgency erupted in northern Mozambique near the Tanzanian border and led to the killing of thousands with hundreds of thousands being displaced.
Last month, Mozambique and Tanzania signed deals to fight terrorism.