Army patrols in the northern region of Mozambique have been stepped up following the recent attacks by FRELIMO (Mozambique Liberation Front) guerrillas on farms in the south.
Army patrols in the northern region of Mozambique have been stepped up following the recent attacks by FRELIMO (Mozambique Liberation Front) guerrillas on farms in the south. The attacks are seen as an indication that, for the first time in nearly nine years of airfare between the guerrillas and the portuguese, FRELIMO has penetrated the southern region of the colony where most white farmers and settlers live.
The latest attack occurred on Friday night (18 January) or early Saturday morning. A white farmer's homestead near the border with Rhodesia was ransacked and burned. On the previous Monday (14 January) a white woman was tabbed to death and her son injured, when twelve guerrilla's attacked their farm in the same area.
In the last few weeks there have also been reports of two landmine incidents on the vital southern rail link between Beira and Salisbury. The attacks brought violent demonstrations to the streets of Beira last week, with mainly white mobs demanding better protection against the southward advance of Frelimo.
In the past FRELIMO's activities have been concentrated chiefly in the north -- Tele Province and the sensitive area around the Cabora-Bassa Dam. The spread of guerilla activity to the "white heart-lands" has profound implications -- not only for the Portuguese colonists -- but also for Rhodesia. The Smith Government's fight against sanctions relies heavily on the rail link between Salisbury and Beira Port.
The demonstrations in Beira at the end of last week may also imply a much graver threat to the Portuguese authorities than the incidents themselves. Several correspondents there have suggested that demonstrations are symptomatic of a "crisis of confidence" among white settlers in the ability of the military forces to protect them. On Friday, the Portuguese Government sent General Francisco Costa Gomes to Beira to take charge of the situation.
The situation in the north also remains tense. On New York's Eve, FRELIMO insurgents attacked the railway line through the Tele Province to Malawi and Zambia. The guerrillas' bases in Zambia and Malawi could be threatened by the Cabora Bassa dam project. A FRELIMO official has been reported s saying that "Either we must destroy Cabora-Bassa, or it will destroy us."
The Dam has become a test for africa's nationalist movements. The project, which will flood a huge area with water from the Zambezi River, is rapidly nearing completion. The giant lake will spread back to the frontier with Zambia, and the Portuguese believe that it will present the guerrillas with an insurmountable barrier to further infiltration.
To counter guerrilla activities against Cabora-Bassa, the Portuguese have removed hundreds of thousands of African tribesmen from isolated settlements, where they are easy targets for subversion, to fortified villages where they can be kept safe from FRELIMO agents. The Portuguese Army is also pinning a lot of hope on its new units of All-African forces. Many of them are former guerrillas, now working side-by-side with Portuguese security police. The authorities claim that it is the success of these measures that has prompted FRELIMO to launch fresh attacks giants settlements in the north.