Mozambique’s defense minister said today that a video showing men dressed in army uniforms beating and killing a naked woman is false.
Jaime Neto promised to have the ‘malicious people’ who doctored the recordings paraded in front of the public and punished.
The video, circulated by several human rights groups on Monday, showed heavily armed men mocking the woman, referring to her as ‘al-Shabaab’ – an Islamist rebel group.
It was reportedly filmed in the gas-rich province of Cabo Delgado, where the army has been locked in a vicious battle with the jihadists since 2017.
Mozambique’s army has condemned the apparent execution of a naked woman by men in military uniform, shown in video footage, left and right
In the video, one of the soldiers hits the victim over the head and over the body with a stick before others shoot, and they say in the video, kill her on the side of the road.
In a statement released late Monday, the army said it considered the images to be shocking and horrific and ‘above all condemning’.
‘The FDS (Defense and Security Forces) reiterates that they do not agree to any barbaric act that supports the violation of human rights,’ it said, calling for an investigation into the authenticity of the video.
‘This is pretty cool,’ tweeted Amnesty International’s director for East and South Africa Deprose Muchena. ‘When does this end?’
Speaking to local television on Wednesday, Defense Minister Neto claimed the video was forged by ‘malicious people’ to damage the military’s image.
He did not give further details, but said those who made the recordings were found and punished.
Troops will continue their peacekeeping operations in the province, Neto added.
The footage comes amid allegations of abuse of government soldiers in Cabo Delgado province.
Military forces have struggled to regain control of the area, home to one of Africa’s largest liquefied natural gas projects.
ISIS fighters pose with weapons on August 6, which they claim to have seized from the Mozambique army after clashes in Mocimboa da Praia in the northern country
Militants have launched a series of attacks on villages and towns in Cabo Delgado over the past three years, killing more than 1,500 people and displacing at least 250,000.
The group has grown more courageous in recent months and escalated violence as part of a campaign to establish an Islamist caliphate.
A strategic port in the city of Mocimboa da Praia has been occupied by jihadists since 12 August.
Following an escalation in the uprising that saw the conquest of the main port city in August and the reaction of the security forces, reports and videos of beatings or other abuses have become more and more common.
This image, distributed online by the Islamic State Central African Province (ISCAP) and provided by the SITE Intelligence Group, shows weapons piled up following clashes with Mozambican government troops on Thursday, August 6, 2020 near Mocimboa da Praia in northern Mozambique. The stinging success of Mozambique’s Islamic extremist insurgents in seizing and holding the northern port city signals to the government, neighboring countries and the world that Africa has another rebel hotspot.
Last week, Amnesty International said it had verified videos showing attempts at beheading, torture and other ill-treatment of prisoners, the division of alleged opposition fighters and possible extrajudicial executions.
The government denied the allegations, saying rebels regularly imitated soldiers in an attempt to confuse national and international opinion.
Zenaida Machado, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, called for an investigation and said that such actions, if committed by soldiers, sowed distrust of the population and strengthened the story of the rebels.
‘This is the worst case of treason,’ she said, adding that scared people should not just run from rebels to endanger those who should keep them safe.