Despite the killing of the alleged leader of the insurgency in Cabo Delgado province in August 2023 (Reuters, 25 August 2023), the Islamic State group (IS) affiliate has continued to launch sporadic attacks against civilian targets in the region. For instance, on 18 October 2023 around 50 Islamic militants attacked a village located 50km from the town of Mocimboa da Praia in Cabo Delgado (Club of Mozambique, 20 October 2023). The attackers were driven back by Rwandan troops acting on behalf of the Mozambique government. However, elsewhere there have been reports of new militant tactics: According to a report by Carta de Mocambique on 23 October 2023, the villages of Nambo, Messano, Lumuamua and Olumboa in Macomia district were visited by militants who were apparently seeking protection from nearby government forces and “appealed to the population to live in peace”.
World Watch Research analysts Yonas Dembele comments: “The recent developments highlight the adaptability and resilience of the Islamic militants active in the region. The apparent new approach of seeking protection in local communities in exchange for promises of safety from attack shows a strategic shift that could complicate counter-terrorism efforts and prolong regional instability. For the Christian communities in Cabo Delgado, the ongoing conflict poses a serious threat since the IS-affiliated group's ideology, based on a strict interpretation of Sharia law, views Christians as infidels and therefore as valid targets. This targeted violence not only hampers the return of Christians to their villages but also severely restricts their freedom to practice their faith. The outlook remains bleak.”