Several Catholic sources have confirmed the latest atrocities committed less than a month ago by the insurgent jihadists of Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa – more commonly known as Al-Chabab (young people) – in the Cabo Delgado region, in northern Mozambique.
Sacred Heart parish in the village of Muambula (district of Muidumbe) was peaceful on October 31, 2020. Catholics were preparing in recollection to celebrate the feast of All Saints. They would not have time.
The jihadists burst into the church, which they quickly occupied: we know that nine journalists working for the Sao Francisco de Assis community radio station, whose premises are hosted by the parish, barely had time to flee, so as to escape certain death.
Daniel Nantuma and Beatriz Joao are among the fugitives. They were able to get in contact with Fr. Edgar Silva Junior, parish priest who also succeeded in taking shelter: “We are dying of hunger and thirst. We are here with my nephews, and we have not had anything to eat for three days.… Father, the situation is still bad. I have been hiding in the woods with my family for five days. We are in very bad condition.…my father was beheaded,” explained the two parishioners.
A first-hand testimony which confirms that the Catholics who represent 28.4% of the population, if they are not being systematically targeted, are far from being spared by the massacres perpetrated for three years by fanatic militias of Al-Chahab, who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) organization.
The daily Le Monde, in its November 11 edition, also reported the recent abuses that took place in the region of Muidumbe – a predominantly Muslim district – referring to the remains scattered in a forest “of at least five adults and fifteen adolescents,” whose bodies had been dismembered with a machete.
Very active since 2017, the Chahabs are the emanation of an anger with local roots, steeped in Islamism, exacerbated by the blue gold of the gas fields, a veritable windfall in the region.
The group is characterized by an extraordinary mode of action: absolute secrecy about the names of its leaders, constant mobility, even if it means not “holding” any area of the territory, alternating between massacres and food distributions in the villages.
According to the Russian mercenaries of the Wagner group, who seek to extend the influence of the Kremlin in East Africa, the Chahabs maintain links with the local security services who do not hesitate to inform them: enough to muddy the waters a little more in a conflict that has left more than 1,300 dead and 310,000 displaced in three years, according to Fides.