Over 180 people trapped in Mozambique hotel after attack

Several people reportedly dead after attack in Palma near a liquified natural gas site in Cabo Delgado province.

Video Transcript

- This is the only footage that has emerged from inside the Amarula Hotel, where up to 200 people have reportedly taken refuge as the town of Palma remains under siege for a fifth day by an armed group. Hundreds of people have attempted to flee the town, running into forests and nearby villages.

- (VIA TRANSLATOR) We don't know how we will get out of here-- if we can get to the sea, or if we'll be rescued, or by whom. There are helicopters flying over the hotel. They're checking to see if we can reach the beach to get a boat out. But as you can hear, we don't know if it's possible. The situation is critical. We have no food, just water. We're in God's hands now.


- Gun battles have been ongoing for days between the armed group that calls itself Al-Shabab and government forces trying to take back control of the coastal town. Fighting started in northern Mozambique in 2017 by armed groups, mainly in Cabo Delgado Province. That's where most of the major gas discoveries have been made in recent years. But the town of Palma had been relatively safe for foreigners working on Africa's largest liquefied natural gas project until this week.

The French energy giant Total has now evacuated 1,000 of its workers and suspended its operations. It was due to restart a $20 billion project this week after stopping work in January because of security concerns. Years of fighting in Cabo Delgado has left more than 2,500 people dead and forced more than 1/2 a million people to leave their homes.

LIESL LOW-VAUDRAN: It's really a toxic mix of various issues. It is a province, the northernmost province of Mozambique, that is marginalized. People feel frustrated. There have been people thrown off their land, of mining activities there-- ruby mines, specifically. And then, when it was announced that the biggest investment on the African continent these last few decades we're going to come to Cabo Delgado, that's really almost the-- you know, it exploded.

- Amnesty International blames several parties for war crimes committed during the conflict. It has accused armed groups, as well as a government-backed private South African military firm, for the deaths of hundreds of civilians. It also says government troops have arrested civilians without reason, tortured detainees, and carried out extrajudicial killings.

There are reports of boats taking those escaping the fighting to the provincial capital, Pemba. But as the conflict continues, the United Nations is warning of even more internal displacement. [INAUDIBLE], Al Jazeera.