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Members of private SA military firm hired in Moz killed civilians: report

A report by rights group Amnesty International is accusing both the government and the al-Shabaab linked insurgents of war crimes against civilians, including killings, dismemberment, torture and abductions.

FILE: The Mozambican government hired South African private military firm The Dyck Advisory Group to help it fight the insurgents known locally as al-Shabaab, who have declared their allegiance to the Islamic State. Picture: 123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - A private South African military firm that was reportedly hired by Mozambique's government to fight an insurgency in Cabo Delgado will investigate claims that its members fired indiscriminately at civilians in the region.

A report by rights group Amnesty International released on Tuesday is accusing both the government and the al-Shabaab linked insurgents of war crimes against civilians, including killings, dismemberment, torture and abductions.

The Mozambican government hired South African private military firm The Dyck Advisory Group to help it fight the insurgents known locally as al-Shabaab, who have declared their allegiance to the Islamic State.

"Dyck Advisory Group (DAG) is a PMC registered in South Africa and founded by Colonel Lionel Dyck. Until Colonel Dyck was hired by the Mozambique government to fight Al-Shabaab, his most public work has involved demining services through Mine Tech International," the report said.

Amnesty said more than half a million people have been displaced by the violence and hundreds have been killed in the Cabo Delgado region since Islamist militants launched an insurgency in 2017.

"In a total of 53 interviews, local residents said they personally observed DAG helicopters and light aircraft direct machine gun fire at civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools, and homes made of mud and thatch. Thirty of those witnesses said they also observed the helicopters hand-dropping explosive ordnance out the side of the helicopters. In a broad pattern reflected in multiple engagements, witnesses consistently said the helicopters fired indiscriminately into crowds, or dropped ordnance, without distinguishing between combatants and civilians."

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