Throughout 2020 the violence in northern Mozambique has been escalating, and in November more than 50 people were reportedly beheaded by Islamist insurgents. The insurgency in Cabo Delgado province started in 2017, and the violence increased after militants pledged their allegiance to Islamic State in 2019.

But why did the insurgency start in the first place? What makes these fighters so different from Boko Haram or Al-Shabab? And is the situation going to improve? Liazzat Bonate, an expert in Islam in Mozambique, and Zenaida Machado, Human Rights Watch's Mozambique researcher explain.