The government of Mozambique says its armed forces have killed the leader of a jihadist group linked to Islamic State which is fighting in the north of the country.
The defence ministry said Bonomade Machude Omar – also known as Ibn Omar – had led the insurgents since the start of the conflict in 2017.
A statement said he was killed along with two other senior members.
There has been no independent confirmation of the deaths.
Two years ago, the US state department designated Omar as a terrorist leader, blaming him for attacks in Cabo Delgado province, including the killing of dozens of people at a hotel in Palma.
A month before that, Mozambique’s military launched a major offensive against the Islamists with the support of hundreds of soldiers from Rwanda and several southern African countries.
According to the government, Omar and two associates from the Islamic State-linked group were killed in a forest in Macomia in an operation carried out with the army’s foreign allies.
It happened on Tuesday, said Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi during a news conference on Friday.
The UN says the violence in northern Mozambique has forced more than a million people to flee their homes.
The violence has also forced a multi-billion-dollar gas project to be put on hold.
The gas and ruby-rich province of Cabo Delgado has been a magnet for Islamists seeking to exploit its lucrative natural resources. Numerous multinational companies operate in the area.
Yet there are high levels of poverty among local Mozambicans, while disputes over access to land and jobs have contributed to local grievances which are readily exploited by jihadist recruiters.
Rights groups say since the conflict began more than five years ago, civilians have suffered horrendous abuses from government security forces and jihadist fighters.
Source : BBC