Hundreds of civilians in Cabo Delgado province are victims of indiscriminate killings by rebels, government forces and private militias, according to Amnesty.
Fighters, government forces and a “private militia” supporting the authorities indiscriminately killed hundreds of civilians in an escalation of conflict in northeast Mozambique, Amnesty International said in a new report.
Combatant-fueled violence in the gas-rich Cabo Delgado province has killed at least 2,600 people since 2017, about half of whom are civilians, according to an NGO, Armed Conflict Location and Event Data. More than half a million people have been displaced.
The local population is “caught between the Mozambican security forces, the private militia fighting alongside the government and the armed opposition group known locally as al-Shabab – none of them respecting their right to freedom. life or the rules of war, ”Amnesty regional chief Deprose Muchena said in a statement Tuesday.
“All three have committed war crimes, causing the deaths of hundreds of civilians.”
There was no immediate comment from the government. Authorities have previously denied that their soldiers committed atrocities in Cabo Delgado.
Amnesty said its analysis was based on interviews with dozens of internally displaced people, as well as reviews of videos and images, including satellite images.
The watchdog said the government hired a private South African military company, Dyck Advisory Group (DAG), after “losing a number of battles” in its quest to regain control of the region.
The mercenaries fired rifles from helicopters and indiscriminately dropped hand grenades on crowds, according to Amnesty.
DAG said it would hire outside lawyers to review its activities in Mozambique.
“We take these allegations very seriously and we will shortly be setting up an independent legal team to do a commission of inquiry and look into what we are doing,” Lionel Dyck, the founder of the company, told the news agency. Reuters.
He declined to give more details about the group’s mission in Mozambique.
Amnesty said it investigated a helicopter attack on a hospital in the port city of Mocimboa da Praia in June last year and that schools were criticized in other incidents.
He said he checked video of another incident in September, in which government troops beat a naked woman with a wooden stick, shot her 36 times and left her body on the highway.
In another gruesome murder, security forces blindfolded and shot several men in Quissanga before dumping their bodies in a mass grave, Amnesty said.
After this attack, “the government security forces took women to be raped at the nearby base they had set up, where they also detained, beat and summarily executed more men,” the defense group added. rights.
The combatants are also accused of heinous acts of machete violence, including numerous beheadings, the desecration of corpses and the abduction of young women and children, including young girls.
“Fighters regularly kill civilians, loot their homes and then set them on fire with petrol,” Amnesty said.
He added that residents used separate words to describe two methods of killing al-Shabab: “Beheaded” and “chopped,” the second of which, citing a 75-year-old man, meant “to be ‘divided as one. cow’. “.