Johannesburg – The UN has expressed deep concern amid reports that about 12 bodies have been beheaded and buried in a shallow grave outside Palma Hotel, in Mozambique.
The reports about the bodies came on the same day when President Cyril Ramaphosa flew into Mozambique to join the South African Development Community (SADC) leaders attending the extraordinary Troika Summit meeting to plan how they can deal with the violent attacks by insurgents.
UN spokesperson Stéphane Dujarric said there were reports of atrocities carried out by child soldiers, alleged beheadings during attacks by non-State armed groups, and clashes in the Cabo Delgado region.
“Although verifying information was extremely difficult, we are concerned about the situation of civilians who fled the violence and those who remain in Palma,” said Dujarric.
He said the coastal town just south of the border with Tanzania, was reportedly overrun by militant extremists on March 24, but four days ago, Mozambique’s military reported that it had regained control.
On Thursday the SADC leaders announced that they sent a technical team to Mozambique in a bid to fight the insurgency.
This follows a SADC Troika meeting in Maputo after the events of the past few weeks where several people were killed.
In a communiqué, regional leaders also called for proportionate action against the attacks in Mozambique.
In the communique issued after the extraordinary SADC Double Troika meeting, the regional leaders spoke out against the attacks and called for action.
Speaking after the meeting, Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa said: “The summit adopted a recommendation that SADC must take responsibility in dealing with the threat.”
This was after the leaders received a report on the security situation in Mozambique.
“Double Troika summit directed an immediate technical deployment to the Republic of Mozambique, and the convening of an extraordinary meeting of the ministerial committee of the organ by April 28, 2021 that will report to the extraordinary organ troika summit on April 29,” said the communiqué.
The regional leaders also spoke out against the terrorist attacks in Mozambique.
“Double troika summit received a report from the organ troika on the security situation in Mozambique and noted with concern the acts of terrorism perpetrated against innocent civilians, women and children in some of the districts of Cabo Delgado province in the Republic of Mozambique; condemned the terrorist attacks in strongest terms, and affirmed that such heinous attacks cannot be allowed to continue without a proportionate regional response,” said the communiqué.
Last weekend Ramaphosa confirmed that he deployed members of the SANDF to help repatriate South African citizens who were trapped in Mozambique.
Those included the body of Adrian Nel who was killed by the insurgents.
According to the UN Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), attacks in and around Palma uprooted many who had been sheltering there after having fled conflict in other parts of the province.
Facts from UN
* Nearly 12 800 people, 43% of whom are children, have arrived in the districts of Nangade, Mueda, Montepuez and Pemba since violence erupted
* So far in 2021, more than 500 000 people in the province have received humanitarian assistance
* The insurgent attack on Palma had forced at least 11 000 people to leave their homes
* More than 1 000 displaced people were prevented from crossing the border into Tanzania