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Mozambique: Family of British man missing after Palma attack say body found

image copyrightRA International

image captionPhilip Mawer worked in Mozambique overseeing the building of camps for workers

The family of a British man missing in Mozambique after an attack by Islamist militants have said a body has been found.

Philip Mawer was working in Palma, in the north of the country, when it was stormed by militants last week.

His family said it appeared he died while trying to escape the siege.

In a statement, they called him an “outgoing character” with a wonderful sense of humour and “who had something of the lovable rogue about him”.

The body has yet to be formally identified, the family said.

Dozens of people were killed following the attack in Palma, as hundreds of militants targeted shops, banks and a military barracks, and more than 5,000 people have fled from the town.

Militants linked to the Islamic State (IS) group are behind the conflict.

Eyewitnesses reported seeing Mr Mawer at the Amarula Palma Hotel last week, when the offensive began.

On Friday, he joined dozens of others who crammed themselves into vehicles and tried to flee the town but they were ambushed and that was the last time Mr Mawer was seen alive.

Mr Mawer’s employer – RA International, where he managed the building of camps for workers involved in a natural gas project – said he was one of seven people missing following the attempt to escape.

A statement issued by RA International on behalf of his family said he was a “much-loved son, brother, uncle, and friend”.

“Although formal identification has yet to be completed, we have now been made aware that the body of a man matching Philip’s description has been found,” they said.

“Philip was an ebullient, outgoing character who had something of the lovable rogue about him. He had a wonderful sense of humour and could be relied on to find a humorous take on the most difficult of situations.

“The family is devastated by the loss and he will be sadly missed.”

The statement said Mr Mawer, who was born in 1962, had been in Mozambique for 18 months and he had previously worked in Somalia, Sierra Leone, Algeria, Afghanistan, and Yemen.

“It was the nature of his chosen line of work to be in the more dangerous corners of the world,” they said. “His ability to get things done in the most hostile of environments made him a valued colleague.

“Earlier in his life, Philip overcame a period of compulsive gambling and went on to write the book Overcoming Problem Gambling: A Guide for Problem and Compulsive Gamblers, using his personal experience to help others to overcome this destructive addiction. He would often receive letters of thanks from people helped by the book.”

Following the attack in Palma, hundreds of people have taken refuge at a nearby natural gas facility operated by the French company Total Рaccording to the medical charity M̩dicins Sans Fronti̬res.

Many have shown up injured including a baby who had been shot and a mother who had just given birth.

The fighting in the region has left more than 2,500 people dead and 700,000 displaced since the insurgency began in 2017.

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