Militant Islamists ‘beheaded 12’ in Mozambique town

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The bodies of 12 people, possibly foreigners, were found beheaded in the Mozambican town of Palma that was attacked by militant Islamists last month, a local police commander has told state TV, Reuters news agency reports.

Pedro da Silva showed journalists the spot where he said he had buried the 12.

“They were tied up and beheaded here,” he said in footage broadcast by state TV on Wednesday.

He was also quoted as saying that he believed the 12 were foreigners because they were white, but he could not be sure of their nationalities.

The Club of Mozambique website carried a similar report, quoting Portugal’s Rádio Televisão Portuguesa.

The 12 bodies were buried under a mango tree, near the main door of the Amarula hotel where many people had taken refuge during the days-long assault on Palma.

“They were white, 12 white people… I was the one directing the burial,” a man wearing a bullet proof jacket was quoted as saying.

Dozens of civilians were killed and thousands fled their homes after the militants entered Palma on 24 March.

About 10 days later, the military said it had regained full control of the town, which is near a multi-billion-dollar gas project being spearheaded by French energy giant Total.

Meanwhile, six southern African leaders are meeting in Mozambique to discuss how to respond to the growing threat from the militants.

Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi has ruled out the deployment of a foreign force, but has invited US military instructors to train Mozambican troops.

Portugal is also expected to send forces in the next few weeks to train Mozambican soldiers.