File picture: SAPS (Twitter)

Maputo - One hundred and eighty suspected Islamist militants went on trial in Mozambique on Wednesday, an official said, the first such court case in a nation shocked by a recent spate of jihadist attacks.

Since the end of 2017, several deadly attacks in the north of the mostly Christian country have been linked to Islamist militants.

Joaquim Sive, police chief in Cabo Delgado province, where many of the attacks occurred, confirmed that 180 suspected insurgents were going on trial but declined to give information about the charges or location.

Official information regarding the Islamist attacks has been sparse in Mozambique, where officials are hesitant to speak about the issue.

In October 2017, about 20 people were killed in an attack in Cabo Delgado linked to militants, and in May seven people were killed in a machete attack.

Last month at least ten people were killed in another village in the province.

Earlier this year, an article on the website of US-based think-tank The Africa Centre for Strategic Studies said the October 2017 attack had "caught observers of international jihadism by surprise."

However, it said, an Islamist group "known locally both as al-Shabaab (the youth) and as Swahili Sunnah (the Swahili path) appears to be attracting new recruits" in Mozambique.

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