The United States government will deploy its Special Operations Forces to train Mozambican marines for two months as part of renewed support for Maputo’s efforts to prevent the spread of terrorism and violent extremism.
The announcement was made Monday by both the US and the Government of Mozambique.
The programme will be known as the Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) training programme.
US Special Operations Command Africa (SOCAFRICA) Deputy Commander Colonel Richard Schmidt represented the US Department of Defense (DoD) during the opening ceremony, while Major-General Ramiro Ramos Tulcidás represented the Government of Mozambique.
US ambassador to Maputo, Dennis Hearne, said that the training aims at helping Mozambique fight violent extremism and terrorism in Cabo Delgado.
Mozambique is facing an insurgency in northern Cabo Delgado province that borders Tanzania, where atrocities, including beheading of civilians, have been reported. The northern province has a population of 1.8 million spread over its 77,867-km² and 16 districts.
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.
Violence is not only restricted to the northern Mozambique: The central Manica and Sofala provinces are hit with attacks which President Nyusi pointed out his finger to the main opposition party Renamo armed wing.
In addition to training, the US government provided medical and communications equipment, the US Embassy to Maputo said in a statement Monday.
“The US prioritises the respect for human rights, protection of civilians, and engagement with civil society in all security assistance,” the statement reads. “The US is committed to supporting Mozambique with a multifaceted and holistic approach to counter and prevent the spread of terrorism and violent extremism.”
So far the US has invested at least $39 million in socio-economic projects in Cabo Delgado, Ambassador Hearne said.
On Monday, Renamo President Ossufo Momade defended the set-up of a reconciliation commission in the country for peace.
“Mozambique people are tired of war and the only exit for the country is effective peace and reconciliation,” he told journalists.
Last Wednesday, the US Department of State designated two affiliates of ISIS operating in Mozambique and the DR Congo as Foreign Terrorist Organisations in a move meant to cut off supplies to the groups and restrict their leaders.
In a statement, the Department said the ISIS-Mozambique and ISIS-DRC are Specially Designated Global Terrorists (SDGTs) and their leaders, Abu Yasir Hassan and Seka Musa Baluku, are terror merchants.
Since October 2017, ISIS-Mozambique, led by Abu Yasir Hassan, has been linked to the killing of more than 1,300 civilians.