International Rights Agency Amnesty International on Wednesday accused Mozambique government’s security forces of torturing suspected members of an Islamist insurgency in the country’s northern Cabo Delgado province, reported Al Jazeera.
The security forces are also being accused of performing extrajudicial executions, and discarding of a large number of corpses into apparent mass graves.
“This behavior flouts the fundamental principles of humanity. The abuses attributed to the group known as Al-Shabaab can never justify further violations by the security forces of Mozambique,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s Regional Director for East and Southern Africa.
Mr. Muchena said Mozambique government must order for a swift, transparent and impartial investigation to bring all those responsible for such crimes to justice in fair trials.
Mozambique’s extremist insurgency started in northern Cabo Delgado province, bordering Tanzania in the north and the Indian Ocean to the east, in October 2017.
According to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED), the rebels have killed over 1,000 civilians and the total number of fatalities stands at 1,854 including combatants on either side. The rebels dramatically increased their attacks in 2020 and in August captured the strategic port city of Mocimboa da Praia and have held it for nearly a month.
Mozambique’s extremists have allied themselves with the Islamic State group, taking the name Islamic State Central African Province.
According to Amnesty, the Mozambican military and police are committing human rights abuses in their battle against the rebel groups. The rights group said its researchers analysed five videos and three photos obtained from sources in Mozambique.
The soldiers committing the atrocities in the videos are wearing the uniforms of the Mozambique Armed Defence Forces (FADM) and the Rapid Intervention Unit (UIR) of the Mozambican police, Amnesty said.
In several videos, the soldiers refer to their captives as al-Shabab, the Arabic word for “the youth,” local slang for the rebels in Cabo Delgado.
Mozambique government is yet to comment on the Amnesty report findings.