On Monday, French energy giant Total declared force majeure on its multibillion-dollar light natural gas (LNG) project in northern Mozambique, formally withdrawing all of its employees from the region and indefinitely suspending its operations. The declaration came after heavily armed militants carried out a surprise attack on the nearby town of Palma, a commercial center in the northern coastal province of Cabo Delgado, in late March. Days of sustained fighting in the town took place just 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Total’s worksite, a $20 billion offshore LNG facility that is currently the largest foreign investment project in Africa. The attack on Palma and Total’s subsequent retreat has brought a rush of attention to the growing insurgency in Cabo Delgado, where more than a century of neglect, corruption and abuse has accompanied the extraction of its abundance of lucrative natural resources. The Islamist militia responsible for the assault calls itself Ansar al-Sunna, but is widely known to locals as al-Shabaab (“the youth” – no relation to Somali militants of the same name). Since 2017 the group has waged an increasingly sophisticated and violent campaign against the Mozambican government, targeting police stations, infrastructure and towns throughout the coastal province. At least 2,700 people have been killed in the conflict so far – half of them civilians –  with an additional 700,000 forced to flee their homes, according to the most recent figures from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Just hours before the attack on Palma, Total had announced it was…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer

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