Portugal sending 60 troops to beleaguered Mozambique

Portugal is to send around 60 troops to its former colony Mozambique following an attack by Islamic State-linked jihadists on a key northern town, Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said.

“A team of around 60 Portuguese soldiers is getting ready… it will be sent to be on the ground in Mozambique in the coming weeks,” Santos Silva said in an interview with the state TV channel RTP late Monday.

“It will support the Mozambican army in training special forces.”

In a dramatic escalation of an insurgency launched in 2017, jihadists last Wednesday attacked the northern town of Palma, lying just 10 kilometres (six miles) from the site of a planned multi-billion-dollar gas project.

On Monday, it was almost deserted as the so-called Islamic State group claimed its supporters controled the town.

The Mozambican government said on Sunday that dozens of people had died.

On Monday, the United States said it was “committed to working together with the government of Mozambique” to counter terrorism and defeat the IS, also known as ISIS.

Mozambique became independent from Portugal in June 1975 following a prolonged war that ended centuries of colonisation.