A shocked Secretary General of the United Nations (UN), António Guterres, has called on Mozambican authorities to investigate reports that militants massacred at least 50 villagers and beheaded women and children in the restive northern region of Carbo del Gado.
Guterres, in a statement by Stephane Dujarric, his spokesman, condemned the incident and asked Mozambican authorities to hold those responsible into account.
The statement read, “The Secretary-General is shocked over recent reports of massacres by non-State armed groups in several villages in northern Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province, including the reported beheading and kidnapping of women and children. He strongly condemns this wanton brutality.
“The Secretary-General urges the country’s authorities to conduct an investigation into these incidents, and to hold those responsible to account. He calls on all parties to the conflict to abide by their obligations under international humanitarian and human rights law.
“The Secretary-General reiterates the commitment of the United Nations to continue to support the people and Government of Mozambique in urgently addressing immediate humanitarian needs and efforts to uphold human rights, promote development and prevent the spread of violent extremism.”
In a recent attack, Islamist militants turned a football pitch in a village into an “execution ground”, where they decapitated and chopped bodies, other reports said.
The beheadings are the latest in a series of gruesome attacks that the militants have carried out in gas-rich Cabo Delgado province since 2017.
Up to 2,000 people have been killed and about 430,000 have been left homeless in the conflict in the mainly-Muslim province.
The militants are linked to the Islamic State (IS) group, giving it a foothold in southern Africa.
The group has exploited poverty and unemployment to recruit youth in their fight to establish Islamic rule in the area.
Many locals complain that they have benefited little from the province’s ruby and gas industries.
Rights group Amnesty International has accused Mozambican soldiers of committing atrocities during a crackdown on the violence, but the defence ministry dismissed the reports, saying militants regularly impersonated soldiers.
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