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AfrOil: Mozambique’s security setback

The Mozambique LNG consortium has suffered another serious setback within the last week. Total, the operator of the group, has suspended operations and evacuated nearly all workers from the site on the Afungi Peninsula where it has been building a gas liquefaction plant since March 24, when the nearby town of Palma was besieged by fighters loyal to Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jamo (ASWJ). Mozambique’s armed forces have been trying to regain control of Palma, but as of press time, security conditions in the area were still precarious.

ASWJ, a militant Islamist group with ties to Islamic State (Daesh), has been trying to gain control of Mozambique’s northernmost province of Cabo Delgado since 2017. It was also responsible for a series of attacks late last year that led Total and its partners to ramp down operations and evacuate thousands of workers from its onshore construction site in January. The French major has struck an agreement with Mozambican authorities on the establishment of a security perimeter in the area, and some sources had reported recently that construction work might resume before the end of March. These hopes have now been dashed.