MWANZA (Brian Ligomeka, News24)- Unidentified gunmen in Mozambique have shot dead four Malawians who were travelling to South Africa by road.
Pasqually Zulu, an immigration officer stationed at the Malawi-Mozambique border post at Mwanza told News24 on Thursday that the four were among a 24-member group who was travelling from eastern Malawi to South Africa, through the Maputo route.
“Some Malawians, who fled from the scene on foot when the shooting began, told us that the gunmen were in military attire. It is not known whether they were members of Mozambique national security forces or Renamo rebel group,” said Zulu.
According to one of the survivors of the attack, the lorry they were travelling in was stopped at a checkpoint and as they were being interrogated, unidentified gunmen shot dead four people.
Zulu has since warned Malawians travelling to South Africa to avoid using the Maputo route, and instead go via Zimbabwe.
The killings took place at a time when clashes between government forces and militias of the National Resistance Movement (Renamo) are worsening.
The clashes have so far displaced over 12 000 Mozambicans who have fled into Malawi.
Meanwhile, farmers in the former Renamo stronghold Gorongosa last week discovered mass graves, with over 120 bodies buried in an old abandoned open-pit mine.
The discovery prompted Human Rights Watch to call for a credible and transparent inquiry.
“The Mozambican authorities should urgently act on reports of a mass grave. They should immediately launch a credible and transparent investigation. Denying the existence of the grave without appropriate investigations only serves to raise suspicions about what happened,” urged Zenaida Machado, Africa researcher at Human Rights Watch in statement.
The media recently quoted Renamo spokesperson Antonio Muchanga bemoaning that over 50 of its members had been murdered in recent months.
Human rights abuses
The United Nations Human Rights office early this week expressed concern over human rights abuses.
The UN human rights office revealed in a statement that it had received reports of rampant human rights abuses being perpetrated by the two warring sides.
“Human rights violations, including cases of enforced disappearances and summary executions, have also been reported,” the statement quotes Rupert Colville, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights as saying.
“Security forces have been accused of summary executions, looting, destruction of property, rape, ill-treatment, and other human rights violations,” he said.
Many Mozambicans did not want their country to go back to the civil war which ended in 1992 following a peace agreement that enabled Renamo to participate in multiparty elections in 1994.
The Mozambican civil war between 1981-92 left almost one million people dead and displaced about five million refugees.
During the war, property and infrastructure worth $20 billion was damaged.