The US Embassy in Mozambique has warned of "imminent attacks" against government and commercial centers in a northern province of the southeastern African nation and urged US citizens to leave the area.
The warning, issued Friday, applies to the Palma district of Cabo Delgado province, where a string of beheadings reportedly occurred last month. The government envisions the region as being a major industrial center for mining and the development of liquified natural gas.
"In light of information pointing to the likelihood of imminent attacks on government and commercial centers in the district headquarters of Palma, Cabo Delgado Province in the coming days, we strongly advise American citizens in the district headquarters of Palma to consider departing the area immediately," the US Embassy said.
"Those who elect to remain in Palma district are strongly advised to avoid travel to the district headquarters and to postpone visits to both government offices and retail locations, including markets."
Americans with planned travel to the district "are strongly advised to postpone such travel," the embassy said. It urged Americans to avoid the area, monitor local media for updates, be aware of their surroundings and review their security plans.
According to the Mozambique News Agency, "unidentified criminals, believed to be Islamic fundamentalists, decapitated ten people" on May 27. The assaults took place "against two villages in the Palma district." Police said attackers wielding machetes beheaded people, including two teen boys.
Locals call the group Al-Shabaab, or the "youth." Authorities are not linking it to the Somali terror group of the same name, however.
In March, one person in the province was killed and homes were torched, the news agency said. Officials believe the Al-Shabaab group carried out the assault and believe the same group has been carrying out armed operations against the government since October.