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US training Mozambican marines

US Special Operations Forces have begun two months of training for Mozambican marines to help prevent the spread of terrorism and violent extremism, the US Embassy in Maputo announced on 15 March.

No details of the training were provided but the embassy released a photograph showing US soldiers formed up with about 60 Mozambiquan personnel at a location that appeared to be the Escola de Fuzileiros (School of Marines) south of Maputo.

The announcement came five days after the United States designated the Islamic State affiliates in Mozambique (ISIS-Mozambique) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (ISIS-DRC) as terrorist groups. These names are not used by the militants in either country, who refer to themselves as the Islamic State in Central Africa Province, but the US State Department said they are “distinct groups with distinct origins”.

It said that more than 2,300 people are estimated to have been killed and 670,000 displaced since ISIS-Mozambique began its insurgency the northern province of Capo Delgado in 2017.

In a related press briefing, John Godfrey, the US State Department’s co-ordinator for counter-terrorism, said the evidence of links between the Islamic State’s leadership in Iraq and Syria and ISIS-Mozambique is “incontrovertible” and “part of why the threat is particularly concerning for us”.

Portuguese Minister of Defence João Gomes Cravinho said in February that Portugal is planning to send 60 special forces to train Mozambican marines and commandos, although the details of the mission have yet to be finalised with Maputo.

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