MAPUTO (Reuters) – Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi urged Islamist militants in its far north to surrender on Monday, saying they had nowhere to run, after allied Rwandan, Mozambican and southern African forces pushed them out of territory they had been occupying.
Nyusi’s comments to mark Peace and National Reconciliation Day came a day after regional southern African forces said they had killed a senior Islamist militant leader along with 18 other fighters in an offensive on September 25.
Awadhi Ndanjile, a religious leader instrumental in recruiting and indoctrinating members of the Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jama’a (ASWJ), was killed on a militants base in the Nangade district of Cabo Delgado, the statement from the Southern Africa Development Community’s mission in Mozambique said, using one of the names given to the country’s militants.
“We wanted to invite them not to wait for death … this is not the intention of the defense and security forces,” Nyusi said. “Surrender yourself … because you have nowhere to go … You are running from one forest to another being endlessly chased.”
A number of areas previously held by militants have been cleared, including the town of Mocimboa da Praia, more than a year after insurgents first seized it. Insurgent bases have also been destroyed, according to security forces.
While Nyusi said it was likely the leaders of the insurgency had fled, possibly even abroad, there was concern for those lower down the chain especially if they had been forced to join their ranks.
“We want our compatriots on our side, not the other side,” he added.
(Reporting by Manuel Mucari; Writing by Tim Cocks and Emma Rumney)