Adrian Nel from SA killed in Mozambique jihadist attack

South African Adrian Nel is one of the victims of a brutal insurgency being waged by militant Islamists in northern Mozambique. Dozens of bodies have been seen but few details have emerged about the other casualties.

Mr Nel would have celebrated his 41st birthday on 1 April.

But his body now lies in a mortuary in Pemba – a coastal city in Mozambique’s resource-rich Cabo Delgado province.

The region has become the latest front line in the global war being waged by militant Islamists.

On Wednesday, hundreds of those militants stormed the town of Palma.

Mr Nel was among dozens of people who were trying to flee the attack. His body was recovered by fleeing survivors – including his father and younger brother.

Speaking to the BBC from her home in South Africa, Nel’s mother, Meryl Knox, said her son leaves behind his French-Canadian wife and three children – a 10-year-old boy, and two girls, aged six and two.

“He was an absolutely beautiful father, and a beautiful person all round,” she said.

“There’s been so many messages of comfort from people that have known him throughout the years. And he will be terribly, terribly missed.”

Mr Nel was a commercial diver who had lost his job in South Africa because of the devastating impact of Covid-19.

He moved to Mozambique in January to join his father and younger brother in the construction industry, building workers’ accommodation camps in Palma, which has become the hub of a burgeoning gas industry following the offshore discovery of one of the largest natural gas fields in Africa.

A mere three months later, he faced a cruel death, having been shot by militants who had carried out a four-day assault on the town, targeting shops, banks, a military barracks and the Amarula Hotel, where Nel, his father and younger brother had taken refuge along with other expatriates.

What’s the latest from Palma?

In a BBC interview, South African private security firm Dyck Advisory Group, which has been hired by the Mozambican government to fight the insurgents, said the militants were still in control of Palma on Monday.