US says ‘committed’ to helping Mozambique defeat Islamic State, extremism

The United States on Monday vowed to support Mozambique after a prolonged deadly assault on the northern town of Palma by Islamic State-linked militants waging an escalating insurgency.

“We remain committed to working together with the government of Mozambique to counter terrorism and violent extremism and defeat ISIS,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.

“We condemn the terrorist attacks on the town of Palma.

“These attacks show a complete disregard for the welfare and security of the local population which has suffered tremendously at the terrorists’ brutal and indiscriminate tactics.”

Kirby declined to give details about how the United States works to assist Mozambique against the militants.

John Godfrey, the top US envoy on the fight against the Islamic State group, said that the assault was consistent with the tactics of the extremists.

“Just the sheer brutality of the events on the ground there, the horrific killings of civilians, is something that we’ve seen elsewhere in attacks,” Godfrey told reporters ahead of a previously scheduled virtual meeting scheduled Tuesday of the coalition against the Islamic State group.

Godfrey said there was also an “increased brazenness” among Islamic State fighters in Mozambique who initially conducted “hit-and-run raids.”

They “now are seeking to take and hold, at least for some initial period of time, some of the towns,” he said.

Godfrey said that one US citizen was known to have been caught up in the fighting and was safely evacuated.

Dozens of people, according to IS and the authorities, were killed in what witnesses describe as a coordinated attack on Palma last week, and an unknown number were still missing.

The insurgency has spread across northern Mozambique since 2017.