Rwanda said on Friday it will send a thousand troops to Mozambique to help the country battle extremist militants wreaking havoc in the north of the gas-rich nation.
Islamic State-linked jihadists have been terrorising the impoverished Cabo Delgado province since late 2017, stoking fears that the violence could spill over into neighbouring countries.
“The government of Rwanda, at the request of the government of Mozambique, will today start the deployment of a 1,000-person contingent of the Rwanda Defence Force and the Rwanda National Police to Cabo Delgado Province,” Kigali said in a statement.
The forces will “support efforts to restore Mozambican state authority by conducting combat and security operations, as well as stabilisation and security-sector reform”, it added.
Rwanda’s deployment follows last month’s decision by regional bloc the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to send forces to help quell the insurgency.
The Rwandan contingent will work with the Mozambique Armed Defence Forces and those from SADC “in designated sectors of responsibility”, said the statement from Kigali.
Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi, himself a former defence minister, had for long shied away from asking for foreign military intervention to fight the jihadists, instead of relying on private military companies.
But last month he vowed to crush the militants with the help of regional allies as attacks escalated over the last year.
Rwanda is a major contributor to the UN’s peacekeeping force in the Central African Republic and last year sent hundreds of troops to the unstable country after an alleged attempted coup.