A group of South African nations said on Saturday that a local jihadist leader and 18 fighters were killed during a military attack on its base in the insurgency-hit north of Mozambique.
Al-Qaeda-linked jihadists have been terrorizing Mozambique’s gas-rich Cabo Delgado region since 2017, raiding villages and towns to establish a caliphate.
Local jihadist leader Rajab Awadhi Nandanzile was killed along with 18 other fighters in an attack on a militant hideout in Cabo Delgado’s Nangde district on September 25, the South African Development Community (SADC) regional group said.
Several members of the 16-nation bloc have deployed troops to Mozambique to fight the rebels.
The SADC said Nandanjil recruited and tutored fighters and was involved in the first attacks in the area and “subsequent attacks on villages” as well as “kidnapping of women and children”.
In July, Rwanda sent 1,000 troops to Mozambique, the first country to do so. Several other SADC members followed suit.
South Africa has deployed around 1,500 troops to the neighboring country.
In the past four years the insurgency has killed more than 3,300 people – half of whom are civilians – and displaced at least 800,000 from their homes.