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Amnesty reveals shocking details of war crimes in Mozambique

Hundreds killed by government forces, private security companies and jihadist groups

HUNDREDS of people have been killed by jihadists, government forces and private security companies in Mozambique, according to a new Amnesty report, which has accused all three groups of war crimes.

The human rights organisation details serious violations of international humanitarian law based on its interviews with 79 internally displaced persons from 15 communities.

The report, titled What I Saw Is Death: War Crimes in Mozambique’s Forgotten Cape, focuses primarily on the impact of the increased fighting in Cabo Delgado since a major attack by the Islamist al-Shabab group on Mocimboa da Praia in March 2020. 

It finds that all three parties have committed war crimes and calls for the government to stop the fighting and launch an urgent investigation.

Operatives from the South African private security company the Dyck Advisory Group have been accused by Amnesty of firing machine guns from helicopters and dropping hand grenades indiscriminately into crowds of people, as well as repeatedly firing at civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and homes.

Founder Lionel Dyck said the company is conducting investigations, but refused to give details of its operations in Mozambique, where it is fighting alongside government forces.

“We take these allegations very seriously and we are going to put an independent legal team in there shortly to do a board of inquiry and look at what we are doing,” he said.

The Amnesty report detailed shocking atrocities, including “the attempted beheading, torture and other ill-treatment of prisoners, the dismemberment of alleged al-Shabab fighters, possible extrajudicial executions, and the transport and discarding of a large number of corpses into apparent mass graves” by government forces.

Villagers reported kidnappings, looting and “chopping” or “beheading” of civilians by al-Shabab jihadists, who, they said, frequently burn down their homes.

More than half a million people have been displaced and hundreds killed in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado region since Islamist militants launched an insurgency in 2017.

Amnesty International’s regional director for east and southern Africa Deprose Muchena said none of the groups involved in the conflict respected the right to life or the rules of law.

“All three have committed war crimes, causing the deaths of hundreds of civilians. The international community has failed to address this crisis as it has escalated into full-blown armed conflict over the last three years.

“We are calling on all parties to the conflict to immediately stop targeting civilians and for the government of Mozambique to urgently investigate the war crimes we have uncovered,” he said.

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