Maputo – Twelve decapitated bodies were found after a jihadist raid on the northern Mozambique town of Palma last month, strewn in front of a hotel where dozens had sought safety, an army and a private security source said.
“There were 12 bodies, they were all beheaded, one of my officers was there,” Lionel Dyck, the owner of private security company Dyck Advisory Group, contracted to help Mozambique fight the insurgency, told AFP on Friday.
Islamic State-linked militants launched coordinated attacks on Palma on March 24, ransacking buildings and murdering residents as thousands fled into surrounding bush.
Close to 200 people, mainly civil servants and foreigners working on a nearby gas project, sheltered in the beachfront Amarula Palma Hotel for several days.
The grim finding, first reported by Mozambican state television TVM on Wednesday, was later also verified by military commander Chongo Vidigal.
Vidigal, head of operations to regain control of Palma, told TVM on Thursday that a forensic team would be sent to disinter and identify the victims.
“Work is being done on this, but I don’t know when the forensic team will arrive,” Chongo said.
Palma’s attack escalated a violent insurgency that has wreaked havoc across Mozambique’s gas-rich Cabo Delgado province since 2017.
The violence has claimed over 2,600 lives and forced over 750,000 from their homes, according to estimates.
Dozens more were killed in the latest assault, according to provisional government reports, including a British and a South African national.