Militant Islamists ‘behead 50 on football pitch and chop bodies to pieces’

Militant Islamists have "beheaded 50 people on a football pitch before chopping their bodies to pieces," it has been reported.

State media in Mozambique have reported that a football field in the north of the African country has been turned into an "execution ground" where they decapitated and chopped bodies.

At least 15 boys were among the dead in the horrific killing spree, and some of the victims were teenagers taking part in a male initiation ceremony, it is believed.

Some of the gunman are said to have chanted 'Allahu Akbar' – translating as 'God is great' in Arabic – when they raided a village and abducted some of its women, while other victims were slaughtered in the village of Muatide.

An officer in the Mueda district said: "Police learned of the massacre committed by the insurgents through reports of people who found corpses in the woods.

"It was possible to count 20 bodies spread over an area of about 500 metres.

"These were young people who were at an initiation rite ceremony accompanied by their advisers."

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An aid worker, who declined to be named, added: "Funerals were held in an environment of great pain. The bodies were already decomposing and couldn't be shown to those present."

Militants had attacked several nearby villages, looting and burning down homes before retreating into surrounding thicket.

The executions are the latest in a series of gruesome attacks that militants have carried out in gas-rich Cabo Delgado province since 2017.

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Up to 2,000 people have been killed and around 430,000 have been left homeless in the conflict in the mainly-Muslim province, according to US-based Armed Conflict Location & Event Data group.

The militants are linked to ISIS, giving it a foothold in southern Africa when they pledged their allegiance last year.

They call themselves Al-Shabab, although they have no known links to the group of that name operating in Somalia.

Locals say the group has exploited poverty and unemployment in the region to recruit young people to join up.

In April jihadists are said to have murdered 50 youths for refusing to join their ranks

Last month Mozambique's President Filipe Nyusi called for European aid to help stop jihadist attacks in the north of the country.

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