Maritime security and risk analysis specialist Dryad Global has warned that an insurgency by a militant group in Mozambique had begun to pose a serious maritime security threat.
On March 24th the Islamic State-linked militant group Ansar al-Sunna launched an attack on the northern Mozambique coastal town of Palma, in Cabo Delgado province. The attack left at least 61 dead and scores more unaccounted for.
The assault lasted more than a week and took place near a major LNG plant under construction by France’s Total.
Dryad said that, although the group had since been pushed out of Palma by Mozambique’s security forces, the attack highlighted the potential danger if the insurgents expanded their ability to include amphibious operations.
In a coordinated attack from land and sea last year al-Sunna managed to capture, albeit briefly, the key seaport of Mocimboa da Praia in which is the Mozambique Channel, the stretch of water between Mozambique and Madagascar, through which 30% of the world’s tanker traffic passes each year as it heads to or from the Cape of Good Hope.
In the Palma attack militants waited until Total brought its foreign staff back after a two-month hiatus in operations over security concerns.
Dryad said that, given the insurgents’ increased capabilities and proximity to nearby maritime trade routes, they now posed a serious maritime security threat.
Dryad noted that there were three major categories of sea piracy: armed robbery, cargo theft and kidnap for ransom. It said that the first was already occurring in the Mozambique Channel, and the militants were proving they possess the coordination to conduct the other two.