S.Africa approves use of 1,495 military personnel to help Mozambique fight insurgents


FILE PHOTO: Displaced women sit on mats after fleeing an attack claimed by Islamic State-linked insurgents on the town of Palma, at a displacement centre in Pemba, Mozambique, April 2, 2021. REUTERS/Emidio Jozine/File Photo

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South African President Cyril Ramaphosa has authorised the use of 1,495 members of the military to help neighbour Mozambique fight an Islamic State-linked insurgency, parliament said on Wednesday.

The use of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) comes after southern African regional bloc SADC last month approved the deployment of troops to Mozambique to combat a conflict which began in 2017 and has killed thousands.

Ramaphosa said the SANDF personnel would be used between July 15 and Oct. 15 at an expected cost of 984 million rand ($66.3 million), a letter sent to the speaker of parliament showed.

In the letter. Ramaphosa referred specifically to authorising the employment of SANDF members and did not spell out how many of those would be soldiers deployed on Mozambican soil.

The conflict in Mozambique's northern Cabo Delgado province has displaced hundreds of thousands and brought a natural gas project led by French energy company Total Energies to a grinding halt.

At the time SADC nations authorised the deployment of the bloc's standby force, they did not say how many troops would be involved.

Ramaphosa's letter said South Africa's military would help Mozambique combat "acts of terrorism and violent extremists that affected the area of Cabo Delgado".

(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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