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A Tortoise File

Left to Die: Escape from the Amarula

When Islamist militants besieged a hotel, the 200 civilians inside were told help would soon be on its way. But it never came.

First published
Monday 21 June 2021

Last updated
Monday 21 June 2021

Why this story?

When Islamist insurgents attacked the town of Palma, in northern Mozambique, it flickered in and out of the news for a few weeks, and was soon forgotten. But it’s a story that deserves attention. It is, I’ve discovered in the course of reporting this story, a parable of our times, about what – and who – we value. It’s about gas and the promise of economic transformation; of corruption, and how it fuels extremism, making the poor and vulnerable prey to a violent ideology. But at its core, the story of what happened in Palma is one of remarkable bravery and gut-wrenching humanity. It centres on a hotel, packed full of civilians, who were abandoned and left to die. Basia Cummings, Editor