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The bodies of 12 people, possibly foreigners, were on Thursday found beheaded in the Mozambican town of Palma that was attacked by militant Islamists last month, a local police commander has revealed.
The local police officer by name, Pedro da Silva showed journalists the spot where he said he had buried the 12.
‘They were tied up and beheaded here,’ he said in footage broadcast by state TV on Wednesday.
He was also quoted as saying that he believed the 12 were foreigners because they were white, but he could not be sure of their nationalities.
The 12 bodies were buried under a mango tree, near the main door of the Amarula hotel where many people had taken refuge during the days-long assault on Palma.
‘They were white, 12 white people… I was the one directing the burial,’ a man wearing a bullet-proof jacket was quoted as saying.
Dozens of civilians were killed and thousands fled their homes after the militants entered Palma on 24 March.
About 10 days later, the military said it had regained full control of the town, which is near a multi-billion dollar gas project being spearheaded by French energy giant Total.
Meanwhile, six southern African leaders have held a meeting in Mozambique’s capital, Maputo, to discuss the growing threat from the militants.
In a communique, they said that “such heinous attacks cannot be allowed to continue without a proportionate regional response”.
They said they would hold another meeting later this month to discuss the crisis.
Ahead of the meeting, Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi ruled out the deployment of a foreign force to fight the insurgents.
However, US military instructors are training Mozambican troops.
Portugal is also expected to send forces in the next few weeks to provide training.