On October 5, 2017, armed men carried out a pre-dawn attack on three police stations in Mocímboa da Praia, a district in Mozambique's northern province of Cabo Delgado. The attackers killed 17 people and made away with guns and ammunition. They reportedly told the villagers that they don't believe in Western education and would not pay taxes.

Since that first ambush, the attacks have spread to several districts in the region and have become more frequent. The attack last Wednesday claimed dozens of lives and lasted several days. Three years later, the mystery surrounding the identity and motivation of this group persists. Locally, they are known as al-Shabab (the youth), but the group has no known connection to Somalia's jihadi group with a similar name.

According to Sergio Inacio Chichava, a senior researcher at the Institute of Social and Economic Studies (IESE) in Mozambique, the country's authorities must be aware of who these attackers are by now. "The government has enough intelligence to say who the group that is attacking Cabo Delgado is and what their intentions are," Chichava said.

Read more: Deutsche Welle