Maputo — The government of Mozambique has ordered the closure of three mosques in the northern city of Pemba after deadly attacks which it blames on Muslim extremists, press reports said on Tuesday.
On October 5 and 6, a group of armed men attacked three police stations in Mocímboa da Praia, a town close to the Tanzanian border lying in the heart of a gas-rich region. Local police said 14 attackers were killed, along with two policemen and a civilian.
Three mosques in Pemba, the capital of Cabo Delgado province, have been shut and the government may extend the measure to other towns, provincial official Álvaro Gonçalves was quoted as saying by the government-run newspaper Notícias.
The closures "only affect mosques that had some contact with the group of people involved in the events of Mocímboa da Praia", Gonçalves said.
Mozambican authorities have blamed the attacks on "extremist Islamist sects" active in the region and bent on "spreading disorder". The president of the Islamic Council of Mozambique, Sheikh Saide Abibo, protested at the government’s intervention. "The closure of mosques creates a bad feeling within the Muslim community," Abibo said in a phone interview with AFP late Monday. "We reject this decision."
Following the attacks, President Filipe Nyusi removed the heads of intelligence service and the army and replaced the governor of Cabo Delgado province.