Security forces on the Cabo Delgado island of Ibo shot dead ten people who arrived by boat from the provincial capital of Pemba last week, according to multiple sources — including opposition party Renamo, which today said two of its members were among the dead. Further reports indicate that another eight have since been killed in similar circumstances.
The boat, whose owner lives on the neighbouring island of Quirambo, arrived at Ibo on the afternoon of 14 April carrying around 30 tonnes of goods, mainly food, worth around MZN 400,000 ($6,000), and was stopped by members of the military at the island’s jetty. They shot the members of the crew dead, stole the ship’s cargo and emptied the pockets of the dead sailors, then sailed the boat out to sea to dispose of the bodies.
At a press conference in Maputo today, Renamo spokesman José Manteigas named eight of the victims, including the party’s head of mobilisation for Ibo district, Momade Chabane, and his son, Samuel Momade. Manteigas’ account put the date of the killing at 12 April.
The event was witnessed by a number of locals, including one who spoke to Zitamar News. The Ibo district administrator, Issa Tarmamade, tried to offer support to the bereaved families but was rebuffed, being told they wanted to take “traditional revenge.”
Sources in Ibo say the security forces have turned the island into a police state. Hundreds of soldiers are stationed on the island, alongside thousands of displaced people from mainland districts who have fled the insurgency — and who now have no access to food, as supplies are monopolised by the security forces.
Soldiers also shot dead two occupants of a boat that arrived at Ibo on its way from Palma to Pemba on 16 April, according to Renamo’s Manteigas. The boat arrived with three people on board. The boat’s owner and captain, Amade Culanda, survived, but two sailors, identified by Manteigas as Muemede Ali Mbaile and Bachir Muemede Cudeda, were killed.
On 21 April, soldiers again killed a six-strong crew of a boat arriving at Ibo’s Jetty, according to Jasmine Opperman who follows the Cabo Delgado conflict for conflict-tracking organisation ACLED.
News of the atrocities comes a day after President Nyusi admitted that terrorism perpetrated by insurgents in Cabo Delgado is leading the country’s security forces to take “robust measures” which “may involuntarily lead to the violation of human rights”.
On 10 April, the neighbouring island of Quirimba came under attack from insurgents, who killed five people. The port town of Quissanga, the access point on the mainland for Ibo and Quirimba, was also taken by insurgents on 25 March, who had arrived by sea the night before and had been presumed to be civilians. Two days previously, insurgents had taken the town of Mocímboa da Praia further up the Cabo Delgado coast.
‘Defenceless citizens’ killed in Palma
Renamo also said at least four “defenceless citizens” had been killed in Palma, northern Cabo Delgado, by the military recently. One of the cases, Roberto Mussa Ambasse, was later found dead in Mocímboa da Praia according to Moz24Horas — whose report named him as Roberto Abdala.
Zitamar understands that Mussa was arrested by police on 11 March along with Muemede Suleimane, who Renamo claims has also been killed, when they went to the police to enquire about the whereabouts of a fellow worshipper at their mosque, Sudi Abdala Selemane.
Mussa was a collaborator of land rights NGO Centro Terra Viva in Palma, as well as being a correspondent for Sekelekani, a Maputo-based NGO supporting the rights of rural communities. Muemede Suleimane was a farmer.
Defenceless Mozambicans “cannot be the victims of a lack of military strategy to combat the insurgents who are taking human lives in Cabo Delgado,” Renamo’s Manteigas said in Maputo on Thursday. “Mozambicans want to know: If the police kill, the military kill and the insurgents kill, who will protect them?”
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