Islamist militants with links to the terrorist group, Islamic State, have seized the seaport of Mocimboa da Praia in the northeastern corner of Mozambique, about 40 miles south of the giant Mozambique LNG terminal site, Seatrade reports.
It is the third attack by the regional Ansar al-Sunna militant group on the city this year, and the latest attempt succeeded in part because besieged government forces ran low on ammunition, according to local media.
Militants assaulted the port from land and from sea, killing several soldiers and forcing the survivors to retreat. The militant group also claims to have downed a helicopter operated by mercenary forces.
“At the moment, there are ongoing actions to neutralise the terrorists that are using populations in the affected areas as shields,” Mozambique’s defense forces said in a statement.
Mocimboa da Praia’s seaport is a staging point for the gigantic Mozambique LNG terminal project, an export plant under development by Total, previously operated by Anadarko.
The $20 billion project is located about 40 miles to the north and is under construction now, with first production to begin in 2024. The plant will export gas from the offshore Prosperidade and Golfinho/Atum complexes, which are among the largest natural gas finds in recent memory.
The 13 million tonne per annum, two-train LNG terminal could later expand to as much as 43 mtpa of capacity, rivaling the largest terminals in the world.
“The success of the attack in Mocimboa da Praia does not necessarily have immediate implications for LNG operations,” said security analyst, Tristan Gueret, speaking to News24.
“The Total project area is secured by a dedicated force, and this means that mounting a successful raid there would be much more challenging for the group.”