Rebels linked to the Islamic State have seized an important port town in northern Mozambique, in the province of Cabo Delgado, according to Risk Advisory Group (RAG).

The town of Mocimboa da Praia, which has fallen to the rebels for the third time this year, is a key logistics hub and port for a natural gas project situated 60km north of the town.

Conflict between the government and Islamic State-linked rebels in Cabo Delgado began in 2017, and has seen 1 500 people killed and nearly a quarter of a million displaced.

Natural gas projects in Mozambique are central to plans to develop the country, still one of the poorest in the world. According to News24, projected revenue from the various natural gas developments is expected to be more than three times the country’s gross domestic product.

Despite assistance from private military contractors, the Mozambican government has struggled to keep a lid on the insurgency. However, in the past week 59 rebels have been killed and six camps destroyed.

South African Special Forces have reportedly been assisting the Mozambican military in the conflict since June.

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