Mozambique: Sernic Arrests Suspected Terrorist in Pemba

Maputo — The National Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado has detained a man in possession of weaponry and other military equipment, which it suspects was to have been used in a terrorist attack in the provincial capital, Pemba.

Cited by the independent television station STV, the Cabo Delgado SERNIC director, Crisanto Ntego, said “in the fight against the terrorism that plagues our province, SERNIC became aware that there were two strange bags in a vehicle going from Mueda (in the north of the province) to Pemba”.

The person who was to receive the bags was detained, and when they were opened the bags turned out to contain five AK-47 assault rifles, ten ammunition clips (seven full and three empty), six sets of military uniform, four military shirts, and a pair of military boots.

“History tells us that when the insurgents want to enter a territory, they send equipment on ahead of them, and then they come dressed in civilian clothing”, said Ntego. “We believe this to be the modus operandi of the insurgents”.

The man (who was not named) has been presented to a magistrate, and his detention has been formalized. When SERNIC allowed him to speak to reporters, he denied any connection with the islamist terrorists operating in several Cabo Delgado districts.

He said a relative had sent him the bags and he did not know what they contained. “I went to receive the bags on the basis of the trust I have in my cousin, who asked me to collect the bags from the bus conductor, and give them to his mother, who lives in Pemba”, he said.

The Cabo Delgado branch of SERNIC also confirmed the dismantling of a network of criminals trafficking in precious stones, believed to be led by Thai citizens. Ntego said the group was detained in the possession of 15 kilos of precious stones, more than half of them rubies.

“We also seized 4,000 US dollars and about 300,000 meticais (4,220 dollars, at current exchange rates), as well as computers, mobile phones, scales and other equipment used in the contraband of precious stones”, said Ntego.

“We have clues about the involvement of some staff at Pemba airport, who have delivered the precious stones in the departure lounge, when the traffickers can’t dispatch their baggage normally”, he added.

Montepuez Ruby Mining (MRM), the company which holds the concession on the Cabo Delgado ruby deposit, believed to be the largest in the world, sounded the alert about the use of Pemba airport by smugglers two years ago,

MRM has argued that the illegal ruby mining is a well-organised racket that often involves foreign citizens, who pay Mozambican miners a pittance to extract gemstones under extremely dangerous conditions.



Source: Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique