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The Mozambican Attorney-General’s Office has announced the discovery of 13 bodies of Somali citizens dumped in the bush in Cheringoma district in the central province of Sofala.
According to a report on the independent television station STV, the bodies were dumped just 200 metres from a police post, in the town of Inhaminga.
Unless the bodies carried identification, the only way the Sofala provincial attorney’s office could have known that the victims were Somalis was through a tip-off from somebody involved in what may have been a people-smuggling operation.
A source in the attorney’s office told STV that, due to the advanced state of decomposition of the bodies, they were buried nearby, after an examination of the remains by a team headed by the provincial attorney’s office, and including members of the Criminal Investigation Service (SERNIC) and forensic doctors.
The theory cited by STV is that the bodies were those of illegal Somali immigrants being driven across Mozambique in a container on the back of a truck. The operation went wrong and the Somalis died during the journey, possibly of asphyxiation. When the driver discovered that his passengers had died he dumped the bodies in the Inhaminga bush.
Afonso Dhlakama, leader of the rebel movement Renamo, has a very different explanation. Cited by the Portuguese News Agency Lusa, “the Mozambican state, the Frelimo government are reactivating the death squads”.
He claimed that on 23 December, in Inhamitnga, in Cheringoma district, the population followed tracks made by vehicles and military boots and found three abandoned bodies. Last week in the Nhamapandza area, near the boundary between Maringue and Gorongosa districts, a further three bodies were found. Two weeks ago, in an area not specified in the Lusa story, another two bodies were found.
Nobody else has backed up these claims, and so far there are no photographs or films of any of the bodies mentioned by Dhlakama. Nor have there been recent reports of kidnappings or murders in these areas.
This is not the first time unidentified bodies have been found in the central Mozambican bush. In April 2016 some 15 bodies were found, and photographed, by reporters near the boundary between Gorongosa and Macossa districts. Reporters came across a further five bodies dumped nearby, inside Macossa district.
At the time, Renamo was waging its low level insurrection against the government in the central provinces, and it seemed all too likely that the bodies were those of people killed by one or both sides in the conflict. The possibility that they might be the victims of a people smuggling operation gone wrong was not seriously considered. Yet none of the bodies were ever identified, and no grieving relatives came forward to ask whether their missing loved ones were among the corpses.Source: O País