Dear Friends and Family,
Some of you have asked us for an update on the escalating violence here in Mozambique, specifically where we live in the Sofala Province of Central Mozambique (On the map we live about 30 miles from the city of Beira). We feel very secure in the knowledge that we are exactly where the Lord wants us. The following is from Bloomberg.com (websites listed below).
Antonio Castigo watched four men armed with Kalashnikov assault rifles grab a woman by the hair and bundle her into a car after she dropped her kids off at the Portuguese school in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo.
The abduction was one of at least 15 kidnappings for ransom last month that has combined with worsening violence between the army and a militia loyal to the opposition Mozambique National Resistance party, or Renamo, to shake the southeast African nation.
“People are very afraid; many are taking their families out of the country,” she said. “People are scared of contacting the police, because the police are involved.”
The growing sense of lawlessness caused by one-off kidnappings in cities and armed clashes between the army and Renamo in the countryside marks a sharp turnaround for Mozambique.
The worsening violence between Renamo and the army prompted Rio Tinto Plc last month to advise dependents of foreign staff to temporarily leave the country.
The Canadian government late yesterday advised against non-essential travel in the provinces of Nampula and Sofala, the scenes of recent clashes between Renamo and the army, and called for a “high degree of caution due to violent crime, including a recent significant increase in cases of kidnappings.”
The Mozambique National Resistance Army, the opposition group known as Renamo, accused the government of planning to kill its leader, Afonso Dhlakama.
The government on Oct. 21 attacked the main base of Renamo in the central Sofala province and there have been a series of clashes since then. A military official, who asked not to be identified because an announcement hasn’t been made, has said that 58 people, including 17 soldiers, died in a battle at Maringue in the province on Oct. 28.
“Since last week a large quantity of weapons was moved to Sofala to start a big military raid in Gorongosa and Maringue mountains to chase and kill President Dhlakama,” Fernando Mazanga, a spokesman for Renamo, said at a press conference in the country today.
Renamo, once backed by the white-minority governments of Rhodesia, which is now Zimbabwe, and South Africa, fought a 17-year civil war against the Front for the Liberation of Mozambique, or Frelimo, until signing a peace agreement in Rome in 1992. Renamo last month said the peace agreement had ended after its base was attacked.
The attack followed earlier clashes that disrupted public transport in Sofala and the movement of coal by rail to the coast from mines owned by Rio Tinto Plc (RIO) and Vale SA. (VALE5)
Four soldiers were killed and 19 injured in an attack by Renamo militia today in the Vunduzi region of Sofala, Lusa, a Portuguese news agency, reported, citing people from the region.
State-owned Televisao de Mocambique and privately owned Soico Telvisao reported that there had been two separate attacks including an ambush of military vehicles. The television stations showed footage of bodies and soldiers being admitted to Beira Central Hospital.
Some of the injured are in a critical state although most are stable, Cesar Macome, director of the hospital, said in an interview with Bloomberg.
Renamo also rejected a call by Mozambican President Armando Guebuza for talks in Maputo, the capital, on Nov. 8, because it had been communicated via the media and attacks on the opposition group haven’t stopped. “That invitation is simply a joke,” Mazanga said. “That is poisoned candy or political propaganda.” Dhlakama is currently in hiding.
Below is the US Embassy in Mozambique’s warning to US citizens.
Over the past week, there have been several violent clashes between Government of Mozambique (GRM) security forces and armed Renamo elements in the central province of Sofala. These clashes culminated in GRM forces occupying Renamo’s main camp in Satunjira and displacing Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama. The GRM has increased its security presence throughout central Sofala, and specifically within key towns and villages along the EN1 and EN6 in the region. Moreover, Renamo’s spokesperson stated publicly that Dhlakama “no longer controls the response of his forces” and indicated that there could be unauthorized retaliations.
Due to increased violence in the region, and the current possibility of reprisal attacks, the U.S. Embassy has reiterated its internal standing guidance that travel along the EN1 and EN6 in Sofala Province is prohibited for its employees except under exceptional circumstances. U.S. citizens should avoid driving outside the urban areas of central Mozambique.
Our plan is to stay close to home as we watch and see how things progress here. It is impossible for us to stay off the EN6 since this is the only road that we can use to drive out of our center. We plan on holding all of our seminars here at our center for the near future. We will also be concentrating on our new 8,000 square foot church sanctuary building project.
Thanks for your prayers!