MOZAMBIQUE: Slaughter of the innocent

Jihadists in Cabo Delgado.
Jihadists in Cabo Delgado.

At least 11 Christians in Mozambique were massacred when jihadists stormed into their village and separated them from their neighbours.

Entering Naquitengue, in northerly Cabo Delgado province, the terrorists loyal to Islamic State summoned the entire population and then proceeded to pick out the Christians before shooting them.

Speaking to Catholic charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN), missionary Friar Boaventura said: “They opened fire on the Christians, riddling them with bullets.”

The attack, on the afternoon of 15th September, was carried by local militants affiliated to Islamic State, which in a statement said that it had killed 11 Christians in the attack.

The actual number of victims may be higher and others are understood to have been seriously wounded.

ACN has also received records of burned homes and other destroyed property.

Friar Boaventura, from the Institute of the Fraternity of the Poor of Jesus, said it was not the first time that the jihadists in Cabo Delgado had isolated Christians before killing them.

He said: “When these things happen, the population gets very scared.”

The area has been subject to jihadi attacks since 2017.

Friar Boaventura said last week’s attack took place at a time when “many people were beginning to return to their communities”, which has led to increased “tension and insecurity”.

The missionary told ACN: “We must pray for our brothers who are in so much pain.”

Echoiing his call, Sister Aparecida Ramos Queiroz, who works for the local Diocese of Pemba, told the charity that “only prayer can sustain us, because this conflict seems to have no end in sight”.

Attacks in Cabo Delgado and the neighbouring province of Niassa have led to the internal displacement of about one million people and 5,000 people have been murdered, according to Bishop António Juliasse of Pemba.

Speaking at World Youth Day in Lisbon last month, the bishop called on Christians not to forget Cabo Delgado.

He said: “There is a war in Cabo Delgado that is not being discussed. Your solidarity with Cabo Delgado helps to alleviate the immediate suffering of this people who are in such need.”

So far this year, ACN has supported 26 projects in Mozambique, including support for people displaced by the violence in Cabo Delgado.