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EU Amps Mozambique Mission

FILE: Armed forces patrol a road in Palma, Cabo Delgado province, Mozambique. Taken 8.15.2021

The European Union said on Thursday it would provide additional support to an African military mission in Mozambique, as Islamist attacks threaten gas projects meant to reduce the bloc's reliance on Russian energy.

Confirming a Reuters report in August, the EU said governments agreed to give 15 million euros ($15 million) to the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mission to Mozambique (SAMIM), which is fighting the insurgency.

The financial support was announced a day after Mozambique said that at least six people were beheaded and an Italian nun killed by insurgents in northern Nampula province read more .

The funds come in addition to 1.9 million euros already provided by the EU to SAMIM and 89 million euros for the Mozambican armed forces.

The additional funds will be used to acquire camp fortifications and storage containers, medical equipment, vehicles and boats, as well as technological devices, the EU statement said.

In an internal report seen by Reuters, the EU had warned of a "very volatile" situation in north Mozambique despite the SADC mission and a separate intervention by troops from Rwanda managing to contain the militants.

The country has been grappling with militants linked to Islamic State in its northernmost gas-rich province of Cabo Delgado since 2017. The conflict is near liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects worth billions of dollars developed by Western firms, including France's Total

Despite delays caused by militant activity, Total still plans to begin production in 2024 from gas reserves estimated in trillions of cubic feet (tcf), more than the amount of gas the EU imports annually from Russia.

Italian oil firm ENI expects to begin shipments from a nearby offshore gas field this year, using a floating LNG terminal which can process only limited amounts of gas.

Other major oil firms, including U.S. giant ExxonMobil are also operating in the region.

The funding is also meant to discourage local authorities from seeking help again from Russia, or from China.

The EU is hunting alternative sources of energy since Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and Mozambique has the third largest proven gas reserves in Africa.

Mozambique has the third largest proven gas reserves in Africa, after Nigeria and Algeria. The EU fears that without support for the military interventions, Mozambique may again lose control of its restive north.