(Bloomberg) -- Rwanda deployed an additional 2,000 soldiers to natural-gas rich Mozambique, where Islamic State-linked violence that’s delayed a $20 billion TotalEnergies SE project for three years, has surged in recent months.

The troops arrived last week, according to Ronald Rwivanga, spokesman for the Rwanda Defence Force. They joined at least 2,500 Rwandan soldiers and police deployed to Mozambique since 2021 to help restore peace in the northeastern Cabo Delgado province, home to TotalEnergies’ gas-export project. 

Since the start of the year, the rebels have regrouped and ratcheted up attacks, raising questions about security as TotalEnergies weighs restarting its project. ExxonMobil Corp. plans an even bigger LNG export facility adjacent to TotalEnergies’, but it’s also on hold.

“We are just beefing up our forces there,” Rwivanga said Monday, adding the additional troops weren’t specifically relieving hundreds of troops from the regional Southern African Development Community that are leaving the country by July 15. “Just to be able to cover a wider area and to be able to operate more effectively.”

The Rwandan troops have played a key role in dislodging the jihadist groups from where they staged a large-scale attack that killed more than 800 people in the town of Palma near the TotalEnergies project. The Islamist militants earlier this month staged their boldest attack since then, raiding the town of Macomia less than 100 miles from Total’s project. 

Read More: Islamic State Stages Boldest Attack in Mozambique in Years

Since the insurgency began in 2017, Mozambique’s security forces have struggled to contain it. The arrival of SADC and Rwandan forces in the second-half of 2021 helped, with the number of fighters with battlefield experience falling to between 160 and 200, according to a UN report in February. Previously, there had been as many as 3,000, according to the International Crisis Group. 

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