JOHANNESBURG, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Worsening violence by militants with links to Islamic State in northern Mozambique are causing thousands to go hungry as they flee their homes and abandon farms, the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) warned on Tuesday.

Militant attacks in gas-rich Cabo Delgado province, near the border with Tanzania, began in 2017. The violence has gathered pace in 2020, with insurgents seizing key towns for brief periods and hitting military and other key targets.

Operations and pitched battles in the region's remote villages between government forces and insurgents have often led to civilian casualties and destruction of infrastructure, with dozens of schools and homes burned down.

A WFP statement said over 300,000 people had fled Cabo Delgado to neighbouring provinces, in many cases crossing the northern border into Tanzania out of reach of humanitarian assistance.

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WFP said it needed $4.7 million per month to assist those internally displaced in northern Mozambique.

(Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana, Editing by William Maclean)

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