Jihadists, government forces and a “private militia” backing the authorities have indiscriminantly killed hundreds of civilians in troubled northeastern Mozambique, Amnesty International said in a report Tuesday.
Hundreds of civilians in Mozambique’s troubled northeastern region of Cabo Delgado are the victims of indiscriminate killing by jihadists, government forces and a “private militia” backing the authorities, Amnesty International said Tuesday.
Violence stoked by armed Islamists in gas-rich Cabo Delgado province has left at least 2,600 people dead since 2017, about half of them civilians, according to an NGO called the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data (ACLED).
Local people are “caught between the Mozambican security forces, the private militia fighting alongside the government and the armed opposition group locally known as ‘Al-Shabaab’ — none of which respect their right to life, or the rules of war,” said Amnesty’s regional chief, Deprose Muchena.
“All three have committed war crimes, causing the deaths of hundreds of civilians.”
Government officials contacted by AFP refused to comment and Interior Minister Amade Miquidade did not answer calls to his phone.
The authorities have previously denied their soldiers have committed any atrocities in Cabo Delgado.
Amnesty said its analysis was based on interviews with dozens of internally displaced people, as well as reviews of videos and pictures, including satellite imagery.
The watchdog said the government hired a South African private military company, Dyck Advisory Group (DAG), after it “lost a number of battles” in its quest to regain control of the region.
The mercenaries have fired guns from helicopters and dropped hand grenades indiscriminately into crowds, according to Amnesty.
AFP made several requests to DAG for comment but did not receive a reply.
Amnesty said it had probed an attack by helicopter at a hospital in the port town of Mocimboa da Praia last June, and schools had come under fire in other incidents.
It said it had verified video of another incident in September, in which government troops beat a naked woman with a wooden stick, shooting her 36 times and leaving her body on the highway.
In another gruesome killing, security forces blindfolded and shot several men in Quissanga before dumping their bodies in a mass grave, Amnesty said.
After that attack, “government security forces took women to be raped at the nearby base they had set up, where they also detained, beat, and summarily executed more men”, it said.
The jihadists are also accused of heinous acts of violence with machetes, including numerous beheadings and desecration of corpses.
Health fears as killer DR Congo volcano spouts ash
The DR Congo’s Nyirangongo volcano has released large amounts of ash some two months after its eruption, sparking concerns for local residents’ health, experts said on Sunday.
The volcano in the far east of the vast central African country first erupted on May 22, claiming 32 lives and destroying hundreds of homes.
“The ash is the result of the collapse of part of the Nyirangongo’s central crater,” vulcanologist Muhindo Syavulisembo said in a statement.
Syavulisembo, who heads the Goma Vulcanology Observatory (OVG), however ruled out an imminent new eruption.
“There hasn’t been visible damage, but we fear respiratory and water-borne illnesses,” Samson Buunda, a local civil society representative, told AFP.
The eruption of Africa’s most active volcano displaced nearly 400,000 people, especially after May 27 when scientists warned of a potentially catastrophic blast underneath nearby Lake Kivu.
UK, US delegates and others arrive in Nigeria to witness Kanu’s trial
Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory of Nigeria has seen an influx of delegates representing the UK, US and others to attend the trial of Nnamdi Kanu, a rights activist and leader of Biafran pro-independence group , the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).
Kanu, whose trial is scheduled to resume Monday, July 26, 2021, faces charges of treason and other unfounded crimes for calling for a referendum on an independent state of Biafra in the east of the country.
He was seized in Kenya and illegally repatriated to Nigeria after fleeing to Israel in 2017 when his home was raided by soldiers who killed scores of civilians in an attempt to assassinate him.
“We see here the presence of some well-known journalists from European countries. Some British and American delegates have also arrived,” said a source at a notable hotel in Abuja.
Ifeanyi Ejiofor, lawyer for the separatist leader, who confirmed the presence of journalists and members of the international community, called for calm between members of the separatist group and the country’s security agents who will be in court for the trial.
“I further wish to urge restraint and civility in all quarters tomorrow. It is your constitutional rights to be in court to witness Court’s proceedings but your engagement, dressing and conducts should be civil,” Ejiofor said in a statement on Sunday.
“The World is here already and they will be watching. All notable World class media houses are here already.
“I also wish to remind the security agents that the Court’s environment is a public place, accessible to everybody, and not a battleground, they should be civil in their engagement, as no violence is envisaged and none will happen. What we Demand for is justice and fair hearing,” he said.
Teen missing since 2020 after soldiers raided synagogue in Nigeria
The whereabouts of Emmanuel John, a teenager, has remained unknown since October 2020, when Nigerian soldiers raided a synagogue in Obigbo, an Igbo residence in Rivers State, where they killed at least seven worshipers and arrested others.
Emmanuel’s two younger siblings were also shot in the incident that left the synagogue razed by soldiers who accused the worshipers of having ties to the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB)—a group advocating for an independent state known as Biafra in the eastern part of the country.
The incident occurred in October 2020 during which a protest against police brutality turned violent when security officers shot and killed protesters across the country, including Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos, where they killed many civilians.
“It was on Shabbat, Saturday, that the incident happened. My children were there in the synagogue when the soldiers arrived. They killed people and shot others including my two other little children who are 7 and 9 years old,” Mrs. Nkechi John, mother of the missing teenager told Gazette Africa.
“Favour (Emmanuel) didn’t do anything wrong. The soldiers shot him and took him in their van with other worshipers. Since that 2020 we have searched almost everywhere but we haven’t found him.
“He’s only 15, he was keeping Shabbat with others that Saturday, he didn’t do anything wrong,” Ms. John said, weeping.
A Jewish adherent, Chikwube Udo, who survived the military raid, described it as a “bloody Shabbat day”, noting that the synagogue was razed to the ground after the attack.
“It was a bloody Shabbat day. People died, others were shot and wounded while those who survived were thrown into the military van and taken away. Few others were found but Aboy (Emmanuel) is still missing,” he said.
Since 2017, Nigerian government forces have stepped up their attacks on Igbo Jewish adherents whom they consider terrorists for supporting the demand for a referendum on an independent state known as Biafra.
At least 14 synagogues, including those destroyed in November 2020, have been razed by government forces in the east of the country.
The crackdown on Jewish worshipers in Nigeria has further led to the arrest of three Israeli filmmakers, Rudy Rochman, Noam Leibman and E. David Benaym, currently detained without charge.
Meanwhile, Nnamdi Kanu, human rights activist and leader of Biafran pro-independence group, who practices Judaism, is currently being held in the Nigeria’s Department of State Services detention center in Abuja after being seized in Kenya and illegally repatriated to the country.
The separatist leader who had fled to Israel in 2017 when his home was raided by soldiers who killed many civilians in an attempt to assassinate him, faces charges of treason and other unfounded crimes, for calling for a referendum on the independent state of Biafra in the east of the country.
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