Two devastating Islamist militant offensives have intensified Mozambique’s displacement crisis, prompting the Church to step up aid efforts.

Armed insurgent groups linked to ISIS targeted a town and two villages in Cabo Delgado Province, northern Mozambique, causing hundreds of residents to flee, local sources told  Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

The attacks took place on 10th and 11th May in and around the town of Macomia, which is home to a military base.

Violent clashes between insurgents seeking to establish a hard-line Islamic state and the Mozambique Defence Armed Forces have been ongoing since October 2017.

Thousands have died and hundreds of thousands have been displaced as a result of the fighting.

Distribution of food to displaced people from Cabo Delgado, in the Corrane’s resettlement, 50 km from the city of Nampula.

More than 50,000 people were displaced in the second half of April alone, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Daniel Eiró, a journalist at Pemba Diocese’s radio station told ACN: “The situation in Macomia is really bad.

“The insurgents arrived at dawn, and the population is fleeing.”

In a video sent to ACN, a civilian can be heard saying that “there’s a terrible firefight going on right now in the Macomia area and the people who remained in the town need help”, adding that the insurgents attacked “with everything”.

The terrorists left behind a trail of destruction – vandalising homes and destroying infrastructure – with corpses strewn across the streets, according to ACN’s sources.

Speaking to ACN, Bishop Diamantino Antunes of Tete condemned the destruction of “dozens of villages” and “public and social infrastructure, including chapels”.

He said: “Dear brothers and sisters, please, I ask that you continue to open your hearts to the cries of these brothers of ours, praying for them and supporting those who are aiding them, through your generosity.”

ACN’s support in Mozambique includes emergency aid, pastoral assistance and counselling for IDPs (internally displaced persons), as well as vehicles for missionaries and the construction of dozens of homes and community centres.