In response to the attacks, Mozambican security forces have also been involved in human rights abuses in Cabo Delgado, including unlawful killings, intimidation of journalists, arbitrary arrests, and ill-treatment of detainees.
In recent months, there has been a significant increase in the number of attacks in the northern province, with the vast majority attributed to Ahlu Sunnah Wal Jamaah (ASWJ) group.
The Ecclesiastical Province of Nampula is one of the three Ecclesiastical Provinces in Mozambique. Established in 1983, it is constituted by the Archdiocese of Nampula and the four dioceses of Nacala, Pemba, Lichinga and Gurúè.
Last month, Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa of Mozambique’s Pemba Diocese condemned the jihadist attack and the actions of the attackers that occurred in the territory within his diocese, which is in the region of Cabo Delgado, describing the episode as a tragedy, a real shame, and a disgrace to the citizens of the Southern African nation.
During the March 23 attack, the jihadists burned public buildings, released prisoners from the local prison, patrolled the streets freely and as a sign of their demonstration of strength, raised the black flag, identifying themselves as members of the Islamic jihadist groups, local sources testified.
In their May 28 collective statement, the Bishops of the Ecclesiastical Province of Nampula recall the March 23 incident and other acts of violence in the region saying, “The dramatic consequences of this multifaceted crisis are clear: burning of villages, destruction of economic and social infrastructures, frightened and starving populations, families on the run, literally confused and disoriented without knowing where to seek shelter and protection.”
They continue, “The tensions and armed conflicts that are taking place in one of the regions saturated with natural resources in our country and marked by the lack of real information and the abundance of misinformation, have much to say about our being and acting as Mozambican people.”
Unfortunately, the Catholic leaders say, “the main victims of all this are the young people who, seeing themselves excluded from opportunities and eager to get out of the situation of poverty in which they are plunged, end up becoming involved in the depths of crime and violence, this time falling into a dilemma.”
"To make matters worse," they say, "the Province of Cabo Delgado, already so badly affected, has unfortunately become, in Mozambique, the epicenter of the outbreak of the global pandemic caused by COVID-19.”
They note that their role “as shepherds of the Lord's flock does not allow us to close our eyes or remain silent in the face of the cry of the people crushed by suffering."