Mozambican President Filipande Jacinto Nyusi on Friday reported the killing of reputed terrorist leader Bonomade Machude Omar, known as Ibn Omar, in troubled Cabo Delgado province.
Speaking live on state Radio Mozambique from his seaside palace, Nyusi said the terrorist leader was fatally shot Tuesday during a gunbattle against Mozambique’s defense forces that was supported by the Rwandan military and troops from the Southern African Development Community.
Nyusi made the announcement after a meeting with visiting Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, who is on a two-day visit to the country.
There has been no independent confirmation of the deaths.
Nyusi emphasized that the fight against terrorists would continue, even when they operate in small groups.
Ibn Omar, considered the leader of the radical Islamic State group in Mozambique, was targeted by the second phase of the “Coup Duro II” operation in Cabo Delgado.
On the ground in Cabo Delgado, the Mozambican defense forces have been fighting terrorism since July 2021, with support from Rwandan troops and the SADC contingent.
The chief of staff of the Mozambican defense forces, General Joaquim Rivas Mangrasse, said the killing of the terrorist leader did not mean the end of the insurgency in Mozambique. He noted that continual combing through forests was needed to flush out the militants.
Rivas Mangrasse said that with Ibn Omar, two more of his direct followers — still unidentified — were also killed.
Little is known about the history and lifestyle of Bonomade Machude Omar, but it is believed that he is one of the few Mozambican terrorists who spent his childhood in Mocimboa da Praia, a district inside Cabo Delgado province with about 65,000 inhabitants.
He has often been described as the brains behind jihadist attacks over the past five years, claimed by a group known as Ahlu Sunnah wa Jama.
The United Nations says violence in the region has forced more than 1 million people to flee their homes.
Oil giants Exxon Mobil and Total are among big international energy companies developing offshore natural gas projects near northern Mozambique, and one huge project has been put on hold because of the violence.