Mozambique: Muslims murder five, including a sleeping child, and burn down 44 houses

Unidentified armed men, believed to be members of the islamist group known locally as “Al Shabaab”, killed five people on Tuesday night in an attack against the village of Litandacua, in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, according to a report on the independent television station, STV.

The raiders burnt down 44 houses. One of the victims was a child who was sleeping in one of these houses.

The Macomia district administrator, Joaquina Adalberto, confirmed the attack, but told reporters she did not yet have any details.

The Cabo Delgado provincial police commander, Joaquim Sive, cited on Radio Mozambique, said that a unit from the defence and security forces has gone to the village to assess the situation and guarantee security.

This follows lethal attacks on the villages of Naene, also in Macomia, on 4 June, and of Namaluco, in the neighbouring district of Quissanga, two days later, in which a total of 14 people were murdered and 374 houses were destroyed.

The attacks in Cabo Delgado have led to calls for greater vigilance in the neighbouring province of Niassa. Thus Angelina Nguirezi, administrator of the Niassa district of Marrupa has called on young people not to be deceived when people of doubtful origin and behaviour offer them jobs.

“Youths shouldn’t be taken in by false promises, for there is no such thing as easy work”, she said.

Nguirezi also called on households and on religious leaders not to offer hospitality in their homes and places of worship to people who they do not know, without first informing the authorities.

On Wednesday, the Human Rights Commission of the Mozambican Bar Association OAM) called on the authorities to take control of the situation in Cabo Delgado, and to hold the terrorist groups responsible for their actions.

The OAM Commission held a meeting with representatives of the Attorney-General’s Office (PGR), the Justice Ministry and civil society organisations to discuss how to overcome the Cabo Delgado crisis.

“The sooner the situation is brought under control the better, since there is no doubt that this is a major violation of human rights”, said the Commission chairperson, Ricardo Moresse. The people behind the raids must be brought to justice, he urged, “since they are creating a situation of instability”.

“It doesn’t matter who is waging these attacks”, he said. “What is worrying is that they are happening, and they are faceless. It is important to bring the situation under control, otherwise efforts to develop the country will be rendered useless, particularly in the north which has been the stage for major multinational investments”.

PGR representative Alexandre Viegas took objection to the description of the PGR as “weak” (though this is the near universal opinion of Mozambican civil society). He said the PGR is operating on the basis of work done by the Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC), and screens suspects in detail to avoid violations of their human rights.

He complained of insufficient evidence to reach those involved in the Cabo Delgado attacks. This grossly contradicts the announcement made in April by the Cabo Delgado provincial attorney’s office which said it had remitted to the provincial court the cases against 234 people arrested after the initial islamist raids, 32 of whom are Tanzanian nationals. They are accused of crimes including first degree murder, mercenarism and the illegal possession and use of firearms; 155 of the accused were said to be in preventive detention, while the other 79 have been released conditionally and are awaiting trial at home.

Viegas said here should be consultations with the communities in the districts where attacks have occurred to understand why young people had joined an armed insurgency. He even suggested forming a group to contact those behind the attacks in order to understand the origin of the problem.

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