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File photo: Notícias
Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi has warned the defence and security force not to kill terrorist suspects whom they capture in their operations in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
For the past year, a low-level insurgency by Islamic fundamentalists has claimed dozens of victims in attacks against civilian and military targets in the northern districts of the province. The insurgency began with raids against police premises in Mocimboa da Praia district on 5 October 2017. The attacks then spread sporadically into the neighbouring districts of Macomia, Palma and Nangade.
Speaking at a rally in Mueda district on Tuesday, filmed by the independent television channel STV, Nyusi revealed he had instructed the defence forces “if you catch these youths, don’t kill them. They are Mozambicans. They’ve been turned into instruments. They’ve been given orders by people who don’t want the development of this country and this province”.
He also opened a window on the religious fanaticism of the insurgents, revealing that “when some of them were caught, they said ‘you can kill us, we’ve already sworn oaths, we will lead a better life up there in heaven. You can kill us, it’s not a problem’”.
“They say they’re muslims, but they’re not”, he added. They did not even know how to use the Arabic greetings commonly found among muslims.
“In Mozambique, Christians and muslims always got on well together”, said Nyusi. “There were never any problems. So don’t invent stories that they’re muslims. They’re not”.
He said the insurgents are being manipulated from abroad. He did not name the countries involved, but among the jihadists arrested in Cabo Delgado are dozens of Tanzanians. It is known that Tanzanian and Kenyan radicals have an influence on the group.
Nyusi accused the mentors of the jihadist group of recruiting child soldiers, and revealed “we have caught one of those people who deceive children”. He gave few details of this man, but said he had been recruiting children from Pebane, Nacala and Memba (coastal districts of Nampula province) to fight in Cabo Delgado.
“He stays in Nampula, eating well, while those children are dying here”, the President accused.
The long-awaited trial of jihadists arrested in Cabo Delgado is due to begin on Wednesday in the provincial capital, Pemba. 189 people will be in the dock, including about 50 Tanzanians. Because of the large number of accused, the trial will be held in an improvised space in the Mieze semi-open penitentiary, on the outskirts of Pemba.
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