Faizel Patel – 29/03/2021
A senior researcher at Human Rights Watch (HRW) says conversations with Mozambican civilians have revealed that a local group calling itself Al Shabaab may have been responsible for the deadly attack in Palma.
Zenaida Machado was speaking to Radio Islam live from Maputo about the deadly insurgent attack on Palma in Mozambique.
More than 60 people are still missing, including South Africans, after the ambush in that country last week.
It is believed that one South African was among those killed while trying to flee a hotel in the coastal town.
Machado says while the situation is very tense in Mozambique, it’s unclear who was responsible for the ambush.
“What I can tell you based on my conversations that I had on Wednesday with civilians is that the ones that were firing at people at that stage were the gunmen that belong to this group called locally Al Shabaab. But it could mean that in the past three, four or five days, we are already at five days of this siege, could be that security forces might have fired at civilians, private company might have fired at civilians.”
Machado says it is unclear what the agenda of the local Al Shabaab group is.
“Until now there hasn’t been any leadership of the group coming up openly and confessing why they have started this war and what their aim is achieving and why are thy committing human rights abuses that constitutes war crimes. We haven’t heard from them. Even the issue of them having the links with ISIS, it came from ISIS related websites and social media accounts.”
Machado says the government has not released an official statement about who died during the ambush including the nationalities of those killed.
“At this stage, what is concerning is that there is a huge number of people that are unaccounted for. We don’t know who is helping them on the ground, we don’t know where they’ve fled to. It’s important that the government step up on measures make sure it helps the population on the ground.”
She says while it is very surprising that the world has turned its attention to the current conflict in Palma, some of the events that happen in the past are not different from what transpired in the region three years ago when the conflict started in October 2017.
Machado says the world’s focus may be on the conflict in Mozambique because foreigners were among those that were at risk during the ambush.
Listen to the interview with Zenaida Machado