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Jihadist Chief, 18 Fighters Killed in Mozambique, Bloc Says

Cabo Delgado, Mozambique
Cabo Delgado, Mozambique

A local jihadist leader and 18 fighters were killed during a military strike on their base in Mozambique's insurgency-hit north, a bloc of southern African nations said Saturday.

Al-Qaida-linked jihadists have been terrorizing Mozambique's gas-rich Cabo Delgado region since 2017, raiding villages and towns in a bid to establish a caliphate.

Local jihadist leader Rajab Awadhi Ndanjile was killed along with 18 other fighters in an offensive on September 25 on the militants' base in the Nangade district of Cabo Delgado, the Southern African Development Community (SADC) regional grouping said.

Many members of the 16-nation bloc have deployed troops in Mozambique to fight the insurgents.

SADC said Ndanjile recruited and indoctrinated fighters and was involved in the first attack in the region and "subsequent attacks on villages" as well as the "abduction of women and children."

In July, Rwanda sent 1,000 troops to Mozambique, the first country to do so. Several other SADC members followed suit.

South Africa has deployed nearly 1,500 soldiers in the neighboring country.

The insurgency has killed more than 3,300 people — half of them civilians — and displaced at least 800,000 from their homes over the past four years.