Thousands of survivors of coordinated attacks in northern Mozambique’s Palma town were arriving in the provincial capital Pemba on boats, according to sources in the city. Rebel fighters raided Palma last week, a town of approximately 75,000 in the province of Cabo Delgado that is home to a multibillion-dollar gas project being built by France’s Total and other energy companies. Sea Star, a large passenger vessel, arrived in Pemba on Sunday carrying about 1,400 people, mostly workers, including Total employees. Another ship arrived in Pemba on Sunday afternoon and was released on Monday morning, according to an official from an international aid agency operating in the city. Police and military have cordoned off the zone, restricting access to the area where the boats were landing. International aid agency sources said between 6,000 and 10,000 people are waiting to be evacuated to safety following the raid on Palma that began last Wednesday. Thousands were still stuck at Afungi, with some expected to have arrived in smaller boats overnight Sunday and early Monday. Several foreigners died when they tried to escape in a convoy from the Amarula Lodge where about 185 expatriates had been trapped, hiding in the strongroom, since the insurgents attacked the town on Wednesday afternoon. Others were killed when the insurgents finally overran the hotel. Many fled into the bush and the number of dead and injured was impossible to estimate on Friday night. Security sources said the foreigners in the hotel had been completely abandoned by Mozambican security forces – possibly because they had run out of ammunition.
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