Mozambique says its troops are fighting to regain control of the key port of Mocimboa da Praia, following multiple reports that it had fallen to Islamist militants on Wednesday. The city is near the site of natural gas projects worth $60bn. The military says there is ongoing action to “neutralise” the Islamic State group-linked militants, who have been using local people as shields. It follows days of fighting for the port in the country’s gas-rich north. Dozens of soldiers are reported to have been killed, and a patrol boat sunk, while the army says it has killed about 60 militants. Mocimboa da Praia is used for cargo deliveries to the offshore projects about 60km (40 miles) away, which are being developed by oil giants including Total. Mozambique’s defence forces have insisted the battle for Mocimboa da Praia is not over. But the events of the past week have exposed both the weaknesses of the army, and the growing strength and sophistication of an Islamist rebellion that is now emerging from the shadows to become a major regional threat.