Suspected Islamists in northern Mozambique killed 11 people close to the border with Tanzania, local sources said Friday, with several of the victims beheaded.
The attack on Wednesday was the deadliest in the coastal district of Palma, which is home of a massive off-shore gas exploration project, since the insurgency began in 2017.
Gunmen struck about 50 kilometres (30 miles) north of the main gas development.
“On Wednesday evening, gunmen killed 11 people in the administrative post of Quionga,” a local source said.
“They intended to cross the river Rovuma (into Tanzania) afterwards, but forces were alerted and they fled into the forest.”
A customs official at the nearby Namoto border post said the villagers had tried to fight back using sticks and axes.
Islamist fighters have targeted remote communities in the gas-rich, Muslim-majority Cabo Delgado province since October 2017, killing more than 250 people and forcing thousands from their homes.
The government and military do not comment on insurgency attacks.
The insurgents regularly attack villages, kill local people and burn down houses despite a growing police and military presence in the area.
But the group’s identity and motives remain unclear.
Lucrative undersea gas fields add an extra dimension to the insurgency as international exploration companies have been caught up in the violence.
This month, the government said US energy firm Anadarko plans to invest $25 billion (22 billion euros) in developing the gas reserves off the coast.
Production is expected to start in 2024.