After five days of unimaginable horror, Mozambican authorities are only just coming to terms with the Palma terrorist attack that left dozens killed and many others missing.
Palma terrorist attack: What exactly happened?
As information continues to trickle in on the events that unfolded in the northern Mozambique town that sits only a few kilometres away from Total’s major gas project, we are starting to get a clearer picture of the events that unfolded over a period of five days.
This timeline you will see below was originally surmised by The Times.
Wednesday, 24 March 2021
Militants believed to be Al-Shabab jihadists descend into Palma to carry out an orchestrated attack on Mozambique civilians and ex-pats. From what we understand, there were about 100 armed militants involved in the attack.
Thursday, 25 March 2021
Reports broke out of unarmed civilians being killed inside their homes, while others were caught outside and beheaded in full display of the Palma community.
By this time, many of the town’s residents, hundreds of whom were foreign nationals and ex-pats, sought refuge inside the Amarula Lodge. Early indications suggest that about 20 hostages were successfully airlifted from the lodge in helicopter gunships.
Friday, 26 March 2021
It’s believed jihadists cordoned off access to the beach, where most of the rescue operations were held. A convoy of 17 vehicles that made it out of Amarula Lodge towards the beach was ambushed from all directions. Only seven vehicles made it out of the ambush. At this time, it is unclear where the occupants of the 10 vehicles are.
On this night, Amarula Lodge was burned to ashes.
Saturday, 27 March 2021
The rescue attempts continued on Saturday, with hundreds of survivors successfully carried out to sea by civilian vessels. The current status of these survivors is unknown but Emilia Columbo of the Africa Programme of the Center for Strategic and International Studies believes they are far from safe.
“The civilians fleeing Palma are heading to areas where they will receive no support. They have hundreds of miles to go either by land or by sea to find an organisation that can lend them the kind of food, medicine and psychological support they surely need,” Columbo told Al Jazeera.
Sunday 28 March 2021
A major evacuation stunt was pulled off at the Total site in Afungi, where more than 1 300 people were successfully evacuated by boat.
Were there any South Africans killed?
No official statement has been released by the South African government on the casualties of its citizens in the Palma terrorist attack. However, according to IOL News, Meryl Knox, a South African woman told Reuters that her son Adrian Nel was killed in the insurgency.
From what we understand, Nel’s father and brother hid in the forest that surrounds Amarula Lodge overnight until they were able to reach the group of survivors that escaped to Pemba.
It’s believed Nel’s father carried his lifeless body along with him to Pemba.
Here’s the latest updates on the Palma terrorist attack
Mozambique is still reeling from the shock of the insurgency that has cast the world’s attention on the coastal African country. Omar Saranga has called on international superpowers to intervene in a violent situation that has crippled the country’s capabilities.
The United States is the first superpower to issue a response to Mozambique’s calls. On Sunday, the US embassy in Mozambique confirmed that it was monitoring the horrific situation in Palma.
The exact number of deaths and missing people has yet to be released.