Mozambique admits presence of Daesh fighters for first time

In recent weeks the fighters have unmasked themselves, openly declaring their campaign to establish an extremist caliphate in the gas-rich region. (File/AFP)
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Updated 24 April 2020

Mozambique admits presence of Daesh fighters for first time

  • The council analyzed the situation of the attacks in the province of Cabo Delgado and concluded that they were committed by Daesh
  • In recent weeks the fighters have unmasked themselves, openly declaring their campaign to establish an extremist caliphate in the gas-rich region

MAPUTO: Mozambique has admitted for the first time the presence of Daesh militants in the country amid escalating attacks in the gas-rich Cabo Delgado northern province, according to a statement seen Friday.
The public acknowledgement came just days after police reported a “massacre” of 52 villagers who had refused to be recruited into the ranks of the shadowy group that has terrorized the region’s villages and towns for more than two years.
The National Council for Defense and Security, the state body that advises President Filipe Nyusi on security matters, blamed the attacks to Daesh.
The council analyzed the situation of the attacks in the province of Cabo Delgado and concluded that they were committed by Daesh, a terrorist organization.
It “reveals that we are dealing with external aggression,” it said in an emailed statement.
Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP), affiliated with the Daesh group, has claimed some of the attacks in the region since last June posting images of slain soldiers and seized weapons.
In recent weeks the fighters have unmasked themselves, openly declaring their campaign to establish an extremist caliphate in the gas-rich region.
They have been scaling up their attacks, seizing government buildings, blocking roads and temporarily hoisting their black-and-white extremist flag over towns and villages across the province.
But police have refused to comment on the attacks and on rare occasions would do so, attributing the attacks to “criminals or illegal miners.”
Police spokesman Orlando Mudumane this week revealed that the militants had beheaded and shot the 52 murdered villagers on April 7 after they refused to be recruited.
The attacks in Cabo Delgado started in 2017 in the small town of Mocimboa da Praia and have now spread to seven districts, or about a third of the province’s territory, according to police chief Bernardino Rafael.
More 900 people have been killed, according to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED).
The unrest has forced more than 200,000 locals to flee and raised concern among energy giants operating in the gas-rich region.
Locally the group members are known as Al-Shabab, although they have no known links to the ruthless extremist group of that name operating in Somalia.


US Embassy in Kabul warns of extremist attacks against women

Updated 18 September 2020

US Embassy in Kabul warns of extremist attacks against women

  • The “Taliban don’t have any plans to carry out any such attacks,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed said
  • Peace negotiations underway in Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, are in the initial stages

KABUL, Afghanistan: The US Embassy in Afghanistan is warning that extremists groups are planning attacks against a “variety of targets” but are taking particular aim at women.
The warning issued late Thursday doesn’t specify the organizations plotting the attacks, but it comes as the Taliban and government-appointed negotiators are sitting together for the first time to try to find a peaceful end to decades of relentless war.
The “Taliban don’t have any plans to carry out any such attacks,” spokesman Zabihullah Mujahed told The Associated Press on Friday.
Peace negotiations underway in Qatar, where the Taliban maintain a political office, are in the initial stages with participants still hammering out what items on the agenda will be negotiated and when.
Washington’s peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad said at the start of negotiations last weekend that spoilers existed on both sides. He said that some among Afghanistan’s many leaders would be content to continue with the status quo rather than find a peaceful end to the war that might involve power sharing.
According to the embassy warning, “extremist organizations continue to plan attacks against a variety of targets in Afghanistan, including a heightened risk of attacks targeting female government and civilian workers, including teachers, human rights activists, office workers, and government employees.”
The embassy did not provide specifics, including how imminent is the threat.
The Taliban have been harshly criticized for their treatment of women and girls during their five-year rule when the insurgent group denied girls access to school and women to work outside their home. The Taliban rule ended in 2001 when a US-led coalition ousted the hard-line regime for its part in sheltering Al-Qaeda, which was responsible for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States.
One of the government-appointed peace negotiators, Fawzia Koofi, a strong, outspoken proponent of women’s rights, was shot last month in Afghanistan, but escaped serious injuries and attended the opening of negotiations last weekend. The Taliban quickly denied responsibility and Khalilzad again warned of the dangers to the process.
The United States has said that perhaps one of the most dangerous extremist groups operating in Afghanistan is the Islamic State affiliate, headquartered in the country’s east and held responsible for some of the most recent attacks. The IS affiliate has declared war on minority Shiite Muslims and has claimed credit for horrific attacks targeting them.
The United Nations as well as Afghanistan’s many international allies have stressed the need for any peace deal to protect the rights of women and minorities. Negotiations are expected to be difficult and protracted and will also include constitutional changes, disarming the tens of thousands of the Taliban as well as militias loyal to warlords, some of whom are allied with the government.
The advances for women made since 2001 have been important. Women are now members of parliament, girls have the right to education, women are in the workforce and their rights are enshrined in the constitution. Women are also seen on television, playing sports and winning science fairs.
But the gains are fragile, and their implementation has been erratic, largely unseen in rural areas where most Afghans still live.
The 2018 Women, Peace and Security Index rated Afghanistan as the second worst place in the world to be a woman, after Syria. Only 16% of the labor force are women, one of the lowest rates in the world, and half of Afghanistan’s women have had four years or less of education, according to the report, which was compiled by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security and the Peace Research Institute of Oslo. Only around half of school-aged girls go to school, and only 19% of girls under 15 are literate, according to the UN children’s agency.
Nearly 60% of girls are married before they are 19, on average between 15 and 16 years old, to spouses selected by their parents, according to UNICEF.
Until now, parliament has been unable to ratify a bill on the protection of women.
There are also Islamic hard-liners among the politically powerful in Kabul, including Abdul Rasul Sayyaf, who is the inspiration behind the Philippine terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, a US-designated militant who made peace with President Ashraf Ghani’s government in 2016.