Total said on Saturday that it had postponed the restart of work at a liquified natural gas (LNG) project in Mozambique following an attack on a nearby town this week.
The French energy group said none of the project staff were among the victims of the fighting, linked to an Islamist insurgency in northern Mozambique.
Suspected militant insurgents attacked a convoy of fleeing civilians, including foreign workers, as fighting continued on Friday in a northern Mozambique town that is near a number of gas projects, security and diplomatic sources said.
At least one person was killed and a number injured, according to the three sources and three organisations with employees inside a hotel where people have been taking refuge in the town of Palma.
Reuters could not independently verify the accounts.
Officials at Mozambique’s foreign ministry, defence ministry and provincial government did not immediately respond to calls or had their phones switched off on Saturday. The national police said they were evaluating the situation without providing further details.
Mozambique’s government had said that security forces were working to restore order in Palma, which is adjacent to gas projects worth $60 billion led by oil majors including Total, after it came under a three-pronged attack on Wednesday.
Nearly 200 people had been sheltering in the Amarula Palma hotel during the attack, according to three diplomats and one of the organisations with people inside.
They included a Spanish resident and other foreigners who locked themselves in a protected room in the hotel, a Spanish diplomatic source told Reuters. Spain’s foreign office did not immediately comment.
Rescue efforts had been underway with at least 20 people flown to safety in helicopters before the ambush, said Lionel Dyck, who runs Dyck Advisory Group, a South African private security company that works with Mozambique’s government.
On Friday afternoon, some people attempted to escape in a convoy of vehicles but were ambushed just outside the hotel, according to Dyck, two diplomats and the organisations with people inside.
Dyck said his helicopters evacuated more than 20 people on Saturday.
Institute of Security Studies concerned over growing insurgency in Mozambique:
Source: SABC News (sabcnews.com)