On 9 November, Mozambican security officials confirmed that Islamist insurgent group Ahl al-Sunnah wa alJamaa (ASWJ) executed at least 50 people in the village of Muatide during the past week.
The bodies were found following an ASWJ raid on the Muidumbe region, which began on 31 October, during which ASWJ launched attacks on several villages throughout the area, some of which they claim to still occupy. Limited information from the region means it is unclear if the 50 beheadings are the result of a single event or a cumulative total from multiple attacks. ASWJ have carried out similar
mass killings earlier this year, notably in April, when another 52 people were executed, allegedly for refusing to join the group.
One local news agency stated that ASWJ carried out two recent attacks on people from the Makonde ethnic group, killing 20 people in the first incident and 30 in the second. Residents allege that ASWJ then brought the bodies back to the village of Muatide, which they occupied for several days, depositing the corpses at a football ground. ASWJ were apparently attempting to kill 270 people in retaliation for the same number of insurgents who recently died in the Muidumbe district.
The Makonde people are the ethnic group of Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi and have for a long time enjoyed government favour in Cabo Delgado. A large number of Makonde veterans of the Mozambican civil war now live in the province. These individuals are among those being targeted by the government for recruitment into local militias, which they hope can help conventional armed forces contain ASWJ. These groups recently assisted the military in operations near Awasse from 16-18 October, along a key route into the coastal town of Mocimboa da Praia.
The ASWJ advance into the Muidumbe district is part of their campaign to secure control of Mocimboa da Praia and its strategic port. The Muidumbe district falls between Mocimboa and Mueda, where government forces have been assembling in recent weeks. In preparation for an assault on Mocimboa da Praia, the military has been conducting operations through Muidumbe in recent weeks. As such,
ASWJ have launched counterattacks to prevent the government encircling their forces in the coastal town…