Maputo (Agenzia Fides) - At least 7 victims are among the people who fled from the Amerula Hotel in a convoy that was attacked, in an ambush, by armed terrorists. This was announced by a spokesman for the Mozambican army, which has carried out an operation to free the people trapped in the hotel in Palma, a city in northern Mozambique, attacked by a group of at least 100 jihadists.
The assault on Palma began on the evening of March 24, when a jihadist outpost infiltrated the town, located near an important gas installation worth over 60 billion euros. Although the assault itself began on March 25, when more than 100 militiamen savagely attacked the civilian population, most of whom took refuge in the forest. Some of the victims may have been beheaded. Some 190 people, mostly foreign technicians working in the nearby Afungi gas field, took refuge in the Amerula hotel, protected by a handful of Mozambican soldiers, supported by artillery helicopters from a South African private military company (see Fides, 27/3/2021).
The following day, a convoy of 17 vehicles tried to escape from the city, but they were stopped in an ambush, and only 7 vehicles manage to escape. The city was set on fire by the jihadists. On Sunday, 28 March, 1,300 people were evacuated by sea from the Afungi gas site. And now, on the fourth day of the siege in Palma, the situation remains uncertain as rescue operations continue.
Palma is part of the province of Cabo Delgado, ravaged by the violence of thte jihadists since 2017. "We trust tha Jesus will put an end to the sufferings of our province of Cabo Delgado, so that this war that no one understands and tramples on everyone, ends as soon as possible", said His Exc. Mgr. António Juliasse Ferreira Sandramo, Auxiliary Bishop of Maputo and Apostolic Administrator of Pemba, capital of the province, in his homily on Palm Sunday. The Bishop then underlined that "there is no religion of violence" and those who govern cannot "wash their hands" like Pilate, because "washing hands is condemning the innocent". At the end of the celebration, the Apostolic Administrator of Pemba expressed his "communion with the brothers from the district of Palma" and invited the Catholics of the region to participate in the Holy Week celebrations through radio and social networks, given the impossibility of doing it in person due to the suspension of the service due to the Covid-19 pandemic. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 29/3/2021)