From Human Rights Watch
(Johannesburg) – Mozambique security forces have been implicated in serious abuses while fighting an armed Islamist group in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
Since August 2018, the security forces have allegedly arbitrarily detained, ill-treated, and summarily executed dozens of people they suspected of belonging to an armed Islamist group.
“The Mozambican authorities should take immediate action to end abuses by their security forces and punish those responsible,” said Dewa Mavhinga, Southern Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “Abuses by insurgents never justify violating people’s rights, and the security forces should be protecting the people in Cabo Delgado, not abusing them.”
Human Rights Watch interviewed 12 victims and witnesses of abuse in person or by phone, along with security force personnel and journalists between November 10 and 27.
Many of the reported abuses followed attacks on villages by an armed Islamist group known locally as both Al-Sunna wa Jama’a and Al-Shabab, though it has no publicly known link to the Somali armed group Al-Shabab. The insurgent attacks in Cabo Delgado province that began in October 2017 resulted in a two-day lockdown of the area and a large-scale military response. Since then, the insurgents have carried out more than 60 attacks in six districts, forcing thousands of people to flee their homes. The group has been responsible for summary killings, looting, and arson
Security forces arriving in villages several hours after an attack have arrested young men and others who refuse to cooperate with them. In the most recent reported incident, on November 23, police stationed in the village of Chicuaia Velha, Nangane district arrested several villagers, mostly men who had not fled following the attack. The night before, insurgents armed with machetes and knives had raided the village, set fire to homes, and killed at least 12 people, including women and children.
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