Islamist militants have seized control of a town in northern Mozambique, killing several people including at least one foreign worker, and forcing France's Total to suspend operations at a huge gas project.
The attack on Palma began just hours after Total said on Wednesday that it would resume work at its $20 billion (€17bn) project after halting operations in January due to security concerns.
"We are calling on the Mozambique authorities to move in swiftly to protect civilians," said Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa Director of Human Rights Watch, speaking with FRANCE 24.
"We know this attack was led by the Isis-linked group," he said, referring to militants linked to the Islamic State group.
"During the attack, the group disrupted communication channels. As a result of this, it is difficult to get the precise numbers of civilians affected," Mavhinga added.
"The authorities must take back control of Palma and restore peace and security."
"It is an indiscriminate attack targeting unarmed civilians," said Mavhinga. "The authorities must swiftly intervene. We are also calling on Mozambique's neighbours to step in to provide support."