Islamic State militants have taken over paradise islands in the Indian Ocean, burning down five-star resorts and imposing sharia Law.
The insurgents have been targeting luxury islands off the coast of Mozambique, where A-list celebrities spend their holidays.
Five-star hotels, homes and wildlife have been torched and “reduced to ashes” in the militant attacks.
The insurgents have ordered residents to abandon the islands of Vamizi and Mecungo, where celebrities like Daniel Craig, Bono, Cristiano Ronaldo, Prince Albert of Monaco and the late political leader Nelson Mandela have holidayed in luxury.
Burnt-out beach huts and torched safari cars were pictured on Vamizi Island.
One resident of Mecungo Island told AFP the insurgents had arrived by boat at night and rounded everyone up.
“They told us to run if we want to live,” the resident said. “Everyone left the island.”
Mozambique and its islands have been closed to tourists since COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions were imposed.
The Islamic State-linked militants also captured and occupied the port town of Mocimboa de Praia on the Mozambican mainland, telling locals that it would become their new capital, run under Islamic law.
The Cabo Delgado province has also been ransacked and raided by the jihadists.
One man who had fled to Mecungo Island from Mocimboa da Praia said: “They arrived at night in small fishing boats. They removed people from the houses and then torched them.
“They didn’t hurt anyone, they just gave orders to leave the islands.”
Government troops are failing to keep pace with the militants’ new firepower.
Western energy companies, who have invested in gas projects off the coast of Mozambique, have been forced to build new facilities to avoid the jihadis’ path.
More than 1500 people have been killed and 250,000 displaced during the insurgency, which erupted three years ago close to the border with Tanzania.
In the past year, the militants have taken credit for the brutal insurgency, naming themselves the Islamic State Central Africa Province.
“The insurgents now have a strong maritime capability, which is rapidly evolving,” said Jasmine Opperman, an analyst with the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project.
“They are sealing off the region both by land and sea, and exerting their dominance.”
Analysts have said that Islamic State fighters had long sought to establish holds in war-torn conflict zones in Africa.
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission