Catholic Peace Entity Fears for Civilian Killings in Mozambique’s New Military Offensive

Credit: DHPI

The Mozambican government has launched Operation Vulcan IV in Cabo Delgado province to wipe out insurgents in the embattled northern region of Mozambique, a move that the Catholic charity foundation, Denis Hurley Peace Institute (DHPI), says may affect innocent civilians.

In a Wednesday, January 11 interview with ACI Africa, the Director of DHPI, Johan Viljoen, said that past military offensives in Cabo Delgado have seen innocent civilians suffer at the hands of the military.

“The fear that civilians will be killed in the operation stems from the fact that the Mozambican army in the past has been found guilty of gross atrocities. This was highlighted two years ago in a report by Amnesty International,” Mr. Viljoen said.

He added, “If the military just arrives in a place and starts looking for the so-called terrorists, the danger there is always that they will round up every young man they can find and detain them.”

According to the DHPI Director, indiscriminate hunting down of alleged insurgents raises the level of violence altogether and potentially puts the people in crossfire. 


“There is also a general lack of trust by the locals in the Mozambican army,” the official of the peace entity of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) said, adding that many deaths have already resulted from Operation Vulcan IV.

“Photos have emerged on social media showing many deaths of presumed insurgents. There are fears that civilians could also be killed in the operation,” Mr. Viljoen said.

According to information provided by DHPI, Operation Vulcan IV is taking place on the banks of the Messalo River, specifically in the vicinity of the districts of Macomia and Muidumbe, in the province of Cabo Delgado.

The peace foundation that has been researching the evolution of the six-year extremism in Cabo Delgado and in neighboring provinces says that the bases had been set up after the destruction of Kathupa, the largest jihadist base last year. 

The ongoing operation is being carried out by the Mozambique Armed Defence Forces (FADM), in collaboration with Rwandan forces and the Military Mission of the Southern African Development Community in Mozambique (SAMIM).

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Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.