Mozambique army killed 14 civilians in the north: Renamo

Maputo. Mozambique's main opposition Renamo party on Thursday accused security forces of killing 14 civilians in the northern Cabo Delgado province which has been repeatedly attacked by jihadists.

The former rebel movement-turned-political party named all the 14 alleged victims it said died in three recent incidents.

One of the incidents took place on April 12 when security forces intercepted a boat transporting people and goods from Pemba to Ibo island off the northern coast, Renamo said.

After "interrogation, they dragged the vessel under the pier and they shot at all the occupants, causing the death of eight citizens," Renamo spokesman Jose Manteigas told journalists in Maputo.

Four days later, soldiers opened fire at a vessel which was sailing from Palma to Pemba as it passed through Ibo Island. Two of the three people on board were shot dead.

Manteigas said soldiers had also shot four people in Palma district on a date he did not specify.

Mozambique has deployed military troops and special police units to Cabo Delgado, but they have failed to rein in the insurgency which started in 2017.

Global rights groups, including Human Rights Watch, have accused security forces fighting extremists of serious abuses, including summary executions and arbitrary detention.

Renamo is the first local body to directly accuse the security forces of abuse and had provided details of such attacks. 

Police spokesman Orlando Mudumane said he was unaware of the Renamo claims and refused to comment.

Since October 2017, Islamist fighters have terrorised remote communities in the Muslim-majority Cabo Delgado region, killing more 900 people and forcing tens of thousands from their homes.

Renamo appealed to President Filipe Nyusi "to take immediate action to stop the barbaric murders.

"Our people cannot be a scapegoat for the incapacity and ineffectiveness of the defense and security forces," Manteigas said.