Police in Mozambique said on Sunday that they killed nine “insurgents” in the country’s far north after ten people were decapitated by suspected jihadists in the region last weekend.
Cabo Delgado province, which is expected to become the centre of the country’s nascent natural gas industry after several promising discoveries, has seen a number of deadly attacks by suspected radical Islamists since October.
“Nine insurgents were killed” on Saturday, said a police official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity, adding that more details would be given on Tuesday.
On May 27 a group of radicalised Muslims, known locally as “al-Shabaab”, attacked two small villages near the Tanzanian border and killed 10 residents who were found decapitated.
The same group hit the headlines in October when it took control of the town of Mocimboa da Praia, also in Cabo Delgado province.
The nine insurgents were killed close to the site of last week’s beheadings.
The group, which has no known link to the Somali jihadist group of the same name, was described by witnesses to AFP as a radical jihadist faction allegedly been responsible for a number of attacks in Cabo Delgado since becoming active.
According to a police spokesman interviewed on state-run TVM, security forces killed two members of the group, preventing them from attacking a local village, before killing a further seven.
Assault rifles and Arabic-language documents were recovered from the scene, the spokesman added.
More than 300 people suspected of having ties to the group have been arrested since October, with more than a third still held, according to the authorities.
The country’s north has largely missed out on the economic growth of the last 20 years, and the region sees itself as a neglected outpost, giving the radical Al-Shabaab-style ideology a receptive audience.