Catholic Priest, Sisters in Mozambique Denounce Fresh Wave of Abductions, Killings

Credit: ACN

The short moment of quiet that followed numerous insurgent attacks in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado Province last year has been interrupted by a fresh wave of kidnapping and macabre killings, a Catholic Priest and Religious Sisters in the embattled region have said.

The Religious who spoke to Catholic Pontifical and charity foundation, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) Portugal, narrated fresh incidents of kidnapping in which women and children are targeted, and noted that the feelings of insecurity are on the rise in various villages of the Mozambican Province.

A Religious Sister wrote to ACN Portugal, describing the situation in Macomia town in Cabo Delgado where mothers are being kidnapped with their children.

The Catholic Nun who preferred to hide her identity for security reasons said in the Wednesday, February 9 report that the town “is under very strong tension.”

“Many villages in the outskirts of Macomia have been attacked…There is the systematic abduction of people who are in the villages and in the machambas, mainly women and mothers with their own children,” she said.


Fr. Eduardo Paixão, a Missionary of the Sacred Heart ministering at St. Anthony’s Parish of Mozambique’s Catholic Diocese of Pemba, told the Pontifical aid foundation that an upsurge of violence is being witnessed after a period of relative calm during the end of the year.

The Brazilian Catholilc Priest who is currently responsible for the missionary area of Meluco said that the region in Cabo Delgado’s Metuge District was relatively calm towards the end of last year.

“The headquarters of Meluco and the other villages were not attacked in November and December. I was in Meluco; we celebrated Christmas with the community and it seemed to us that everything was very calm, that everything was going very well,” he said.

The calm, he explained to ACN Portugal, had been an illusion since it was followed by renewed attacks that were spreading fast.

“On December 30 and 31, attacks began on the village of Nangololo, of Imbada, and then the violence was spreading during the first week of 2022 through the villages of Mariri, which is neighboring Muària, and which had a big school, the biggest school in the Meluco district,” Fr. Eduardo said.

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He added, “The village of Mariri was attacked, they burned houses, and the following week there were more attacks in the villages towards the district of Meluco. There were five villages in all in that district that I know of.”

The member of the Missionary of the Sacred Heart further said that people in affected villages “are very afraid, very insecure”, and that the number of fleeing families has been increasing.

A Religious Sister, who is also in the embattled Province and who asks not to be identified, bemoans the insecurity in Mozambican villages that has left civilians with no place to hide.

“The problem is now more serious, because at least at the beginning of this absurd conflict, people could leave and take refuge in their farms or in places chosen as being safe. Now, the insurgents chase the people to their farms; they are stripped of foodstuffs for subsistence and some are killed in a cruel way,” the Catholic Nun says.

ACN Portugal reports that there has been a spate of attacks in recent times on the outskirts of the district headquarters. Most attacks have been witnessed in the villages of Nova Zambezia, Nova Vida, Nkoe, Nanjaba, Imbada, Bangala 2, and Iba, located on the boundary between Macomia and Meluco districts.


“Insurgents have not always attacked to kill or kidnap. Sometimes, the intention is just to take food and cause fear among the populations,” Religious serving in the region have told ACN Portugal.

They have added in reference to the insurgents, “Sometimes they just enter and threaten the population to leave the place. And of course, they burn down some houses as a warning. It's a very sad situation.”

In addition to the nightmare of violence, of the fear of terrorist attacks, the populations of this region of Cabo Delgado have also suffered from systematic power and communication cuts, the charity foundation has reported.

In the February 9 report, Fr. Eduardo narrated the tough ordeal, saying, “We spent since the end of December practically the whole month of January without communication and also without energy. These things have been resumed, but none of this guarantees the safety of the people to return to their villages or tranquility.”

ACN Portugal reports that since the armed attacks began in October 2017, more than three thousand people have died.

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“As a direct consequence of the violence, there are about 800,000 internally displaced persons. This whole situation has made Mozambique a priority country for the ACN Foundation on the African continent, especially when it comes to supporting refugees,” the Catholic Pontifical foundation has reported.

“The aid from the ACN Foundation has been materialized namely in projects of pastoral assistance and psychosocial support, but also in the supply of materials for the construction of dozens of houses, community centers and also the purchase of vehicles for the missionaries working in the resettlement centers that shelter families fleeing the war,” ACN Portugal indicates in the February 9 report.

Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.