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US accuses Mozambique security forces of 'arbitrary' killings

In its 2019 global human rights assessment report dated Wednesday, the US State Department cited "unlawful or arbitrary killings by government security forces".

The flag of Mozambique. Picture: Pixabay.com

MAPUTO - The United States has accused Mozambique security forces of unlawful and arbitrary killings in their battle against a shadowy jihadist group in the country's northern region.

In its 2019 global human rights assessment report dated Wednesday, the US State Department cited "unlawful or arbitrary killings by government security forces".

Many of the human rights violations in the southern African country were related to the violent attacks by Islamic jihadists.

"The rate of violent extremist killings in Cabo Delgado province escalated during the year claiming the lives of approximately 600 individuals," said the report.

Maputo hardly comments on the Islamist attacks, and when it does only refers to the militants as "criminals".

Mozambique's deputy Justice Minister Filmao Swazi, who is the cabinet spokesman, refused to comment on Washington's allegations saying they were not discussed during Thursday's government ministers meeting.

Since October 2017, militants known locally as "Al Shabaab," - with no discernible connection to the Somali jihadist organisation of that name - have wrecked havoc and spread terror in the gas-rich region.

Around 100,000 villagers have fled the region and the under-equipped security forces are struggling to fight off the offensive.

Since June 2019, the so-called Islamic State group has claimed around 20 of the attacks staged in Cabo Delgado.

But analysts say they see no evidence of IS financial or military support to the Mozambican jihadists.

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