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The Mozambican authorities must take immediate steps to end a killing spree in the Cabo Delgado Province, which has seen at least 37 people brutally killed by a group known as ‘Al-Shabab’ in the past two weeks, Amnesty International said today. The organization said that an increasing number of people are fleeing their homes in fear of the group, which has no known link to the Somalian armed group of the same name.

The latest attack took place last night in Namaculo village in Quissanga district. Witnesses told Amnesty International that around 10 people were hacked to death and an unspecified number of houses were burned when attackers raided the village at dawn. The village is now empty as residents have fled their homes to seek safety. A village attacked on 5 June, Naunde Village in the south of Macomia district, is also reported to be empty.

“At least ten people were hacked to death in the latest appalling attack in Cabo Delgado, where an escalation in violence has left civilians at the mercy of this brutal militant group and forced many to flee their homes,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for Southern Africa.

“The gruesome ways in which these killings are carried out shows this group’s intent to sow fear among civilians. The Mozambican authorities must take immediate and effective action to end the killings including by reinforcing security measures to protect the lives of villagers in the region, and carrying out investigations into all the recent attacks with the aim of bringing suspected perpetrators to account.”

Last week, the Mozambican armed forces killed nine supposed members of ‘Al-Shabab’ in a counteroffensive attack in Palma district, where the group had recently beheaded 10 people, two of whom were children. Amnesty International is calling on the Mozambican authorities to ensure that suspected perpetrators are brought to justice in fair trials.

Background

Killings of civilians by armed groups are not new in Cabo Delgado. In October last year, Al-Shabab members terrorized Mocimboa da Praia district, with coordinated and simultaneous attacks on government institutions including police headquarters. Two police officers and three members of the group were killed.

Earlier in August, six members of the same group attacked the police headquarters in Mugovolas district, Nampula province, killing one police officer and seriously injuring another. The group’s political ideology is unknown and has not made any political demands.