MAPUTO, An unidentified group, believed to be Islamic extremists, attacked a village in Nangade district in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado on Monday, killing two people and injuring a third.

The spokesperson for the General Command of the Mozambican police, Inacio Dina, who confirmed the attack during his weekly media briefing here Tuesday, said one of those killed was a worker at a Nangade health post, and the second was the wife of a local businessman.

He added that the raiders vandalised several buildings in the village of Nkonga and stole all the medicines from the health post.

When they attacked the businessman’s house, they demanded money and then shot the businessman and killed his wife. In houses where other traders live, the group successfully demanded money from their victims.

Media reports, citing local sources, said the group also stole food from stalls in the Nkonga market. When they left, they took eight motorbikes and ten goats.

Dina said defence and security forces were pursuing the group. They intend to arrest the attackers, hold them responsible for their acts, and recover the stolen property, he added.

Nangade district borders on Mocimboa da Praia and Palma, the other two Cabo Delgado districts which have suffered from attacks by suspected Islamist groups. The Islamist insurgency in the province began with co-ordinated attacks on three police premises in Mocimboa da Praia on Oct 5, last year.

Although the police quickly regained control of Mocimboa town, sporadic attacks have continued, and have now spread to the two neighbouring districts. On Saturday night, the insurgents attacked the Olumbe administrative post in Palma district, killing five people and wounding a further 11. Two days later came the attack in Nangade.

The police have been reluctant to blame the same group for all the attacks, with Dina claiming it would be premature to draw that conclusion. But sources on the ground in Cabo Delgado have no doubt that all the raids are the work of an islamic fundamentalist group, referred to locally as Al-Shabaab, although it does not seem to have any direct connection with the Somali terrorist group of that name.

So far, the police have detained over 300 people in connection with the attacks. Dina said that most of them are Mozambicans, but the group also contains foreigners, mainly Tanzanians. Both Palma and Nangade districts share a border with Tanzania.

The general commander of the Mozambican police, Bernadino Rafael, visited Dar es Salaam on Monday, and signed a protocol with his Tanzanian counterpart, Simon Nyankoro Sirro, for co-operation in the fight against terrorism, and cross-border crimes.

The protocol lists a large number of crimes, but there can be little doubt that that most important provision is that the two police forces must give a combined response to incursions by terrorist groups. This clause will allow the Mozambican defence and security forces to call on Tanzanian assistance for the fight against Islamic fundamentalists in Cabo Delgado.