Several villages in Cabo Delgado’s Muidumbe district have been under the control of insurgents for about two weeks, with firefights continuing yesterday in the villages of Muambula and Muatide, where one local resident told Zitamar News the attackers were climbing mobile phone masts to check on movements in the villages.
Local reports say several people have been beheaded and others shot dead, homes have been burned and other private and public infrastructure destroyed, including the district government headquarters that had been rehabilitated after the insurgents’ April invasion of the district.
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The new wave of attacks began on 30 October, a week after Muidumbe's administrator, Saíde Aly Chabane, issued a circular demanding the return of civil servants who had left the village because of the insecurity.
In the document, Chabane said the town was safe again, allowing for the reconstruction of damaged infrastructure and the provision of public services to the population. Civil servants were required to return by 1 November or face wage deductions for absenteeism.
During the first two days of the attack on Muidumbe district, 30-31 October, reports from those who managed to flee indicated that the terrorists had reached the district headquarters and the villages Magaia, 24 de Março, Muambula, Namacande (the district headquarters), N’Chinga, Namacule and Muatide. Over the past seven days they also attacked the villages of Nampanha and Lutete.
This week, a national network of local radio stations, Forcom, reported that a group of nine community radio journalists from Muidumbe said that they were dying of hunger and thirst, in hiding in the woods for the past 10 days.
Pinnacle News, a news website with correspondents throughout Cabo Delgado, has reported that a local football field in Muatide has been transformed by terrorists into a "beheading field" for people captured in the bush. Pinnacle said at least 50 people had been beheaded there over the last two weeks, including 15 boys whom the insurgents found undergoing traditional initiation rites.
The priest of Muidumbe parish, Edegard Silva Júnior, confirmed yesterday to the private television station STV that the town was under terrorist control with several desperate people hiding in the woods.
A spokesperson for the United Nations secretary general, Antonio Gutierrez, said Gutierrez was shocked by recent reports of massacres in Cabo Delgado, “including the reported beheading and kidnapping of women and children.” He urged the country’s authorities “to conduct an investigation into these incidents, and to hold those responsible to account.”
Zimbabwean president Emmerson Mnangagwa wrote yesterday on Twitter that he was "deeply shocked" by recent reports of terrorist activity in Mozambique, where up to 2,000 people have been killed and about 430,000 have been left homeless.
"These acts of barbarity must be stamped out wherever they are found," he said adding that Zimbabwe "is ready to assist in any way" that it can.
This article was produced by Zitamar and Mediafax under the Cabo Ligado project, in collaboration with ACLED and with support from Crisis Group. The contents of the article are the sole responsibility of Zitamar News.