On 21 April 2020, Mozambican authorities publicly announced that suspected Islamist militants attacked Xitaxi village, located in the Muidumbe district of Cabo Delgado province, on 7 April. The attack left at least 52 people dead; officials stated that the majority of the victims were executed after refusing to be recruited by the extremist group. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which was among the deadliest to occur since the terrorist group emerged in Cabo Delgado in late 2017.
Analyst Comment: In recent months, the Islamic State (IS) and its regional affiliate Islamic State Central Africa Province (ISCAP) have claimed responsibility for several high-profile attacks in Cabo Delgado. Most notably, ISCAP claimed its fighters were responsible for a 23 March attack on the town of Mocimboa da Praia — located near several liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects operated by foreign-based companies on the Afungi peninsula — during which militants temporarily gained control of a Mozambican military base and occupied all points of entry to the city. Prior to this shift, militants operating in Cabo Delgado primarily targeted rural areas of the province in smaller-scale attacks, which typically went unclaimed. The attack on 7 April indicates a potential escalation of the group’s prominence in the region.