Islamist militants have beheaded more than 50 people, chopped up the bodies of victims and abducted women in a gruesome attack in Mozambique.
The bodies of dismembered victims were found scattered across a forest clearing yesterday after a football pitch was turned into an ‘execution ground’.
It is believed that at least 15 boys were among the dead, and some of the victims were teenagers taking part in a male initiation ceremony.
The attack is the latest in a growing wave of jihadist violence in Mozambique by extremists linked to ISIS.
According to BBC News, some of the gunmen are said to have chanted the usual slogan, ‘Allahu Akbar’ when they raided a village and abducted some of its women, while others slaughtered victims in nearby Muatide.
‘Police learned of the massacre committed by the insurgents through reports of people who found corpses in the woods,’ said an officer in the Mueda district.
‘It was possible to count 20 bodies spread over an area of about 500 metres,’ he added.
An aid worker in Mueda, who also declined to be named, confirmed the massacre had taken place, saying some of the boys had come from that area.
She said body parts had been sent to their families for burial on today.
‘Funerals were held in an environment of great pain,’ said the worker. ‘The bodies were already decomposing and couldn’t be shown to those present.’
Militants had attacked several nearby villages over the weekend, looting and burning down homes before retreating into surrounding thicket.
Jihadists have caused havoc in Mozambique’s northeastern Cabo Delgado province over the past three years, ravaging villages and towns as part of a campaign to establish an Islamist caliphate.
In April, jihadists shot dead and beheaded more than 50 youths for allegedly refusing to join their ranks.
The unrest has killed over 2,000 people since 2017, more than half of them civilians, according to the US-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data group.