Twelve people, possibly foreigners, beheaded in attack on Mozambique gas hub town, say police

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Burnt-out huts are seen at the scene of an armed attack in Chitolo village, Mozambique, July 10, 2018. — Reuters pic
Nevin Al Sukari - Sana'a - Burnt-out huts are seen at the scene of an armed attack in Chitolo village, Mozambique, July 10, 2018. — Reuters pic

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JOHANNESBURG, April 8 — Twelve people, possibly foreigners, were found beheaded following an Islamic State-claimed attack on the northern Mozambique town of Palma, near natural gas projects worth US$60 billion, a local police commander told state TV station TVM.

The police commander Pedro da Silva told journalists visiting the town that he could not be sure of the nationalities of the 12 people, but he believed they were foreigners because they were white.

“They were tied up and beheaded here,” he said in TVM footage broadcast on Wednesday, as he pointed to spots of disturbed earth where he said he buried the bodies himself.

The news comes as regional leaders were due to conclude a meeting on Thursday to consider a response to the insurgency in the southern African nation.

Islamic State-linked insurgents have been increasingly active since 2017 in the northern Cabo Delgado province where Palma is located, although it was unclear whether they have a unified aim.

The government has said dozens died in the latest assault that began on March 24, and aid groups believe tens of thousands have been displaced. But the full scale of the casualties and displacement remains unclear.

The TVM footage was taken outside Amarula hotel, where a large group, including foreigners and locals, were besieged by insurgents in the days following the attack.

National police spokesman Orlando Mudumane said he had seen the footage but could not confirm its contents, and that they were investigating.

Reuters has not been able to verify accounts about the attack on Palma independently. Most means of communication with the town were cut off after the attack began.

The group that sought refuge in the Amarula hotel tried to escape in a convoy of cars on March 26, but were ambushed just outside the gates. Seven were killed, the government said. That included one British man and a South African. Their bodies have already been removed from Palma.

Mozambique President Filipe Nyusi, who has come under pressure to accept international help in combating the insurgency, said on Wednesday Mozambique would tackle some aspects of the problem alone for reasons of sovereignty.

The army has since said the town is secure. — Reuters

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