The epidemic engendered by the coronavirus has put the bloody persecutions of which Christians are the victims in the background: during Holy Week, more than fifty young people were massacred in Mozambique. A mass execution attributed to the Islamists of Al-Chahab, who want to establish the caliphate in the region.
“We do not want a government of unbelievers, we want the government of God,” says the man who claims membership in Al-Chahad (“young people,” in Arabic), a jihadist group which wants to establish Islamic law in East Africa.
By combining the versions given on April 20, 2020 by the police chief Orlando Mudumane, and the journalist Armando Nhantumbo, we can get an idea of the massacre perpetrated on April 7.
It was 1:00 pm when a detachment of Al-Chahad fighters bursts into the central square of the village of Xitaxi (north of the country), which was almost deserted at this time. All the young men were then gathered together by armed men who ordered them to immediately embrace the cause of Islam and jihad. Their goal is to recruit people to increase their own troops in order to dig themselves in deeper into a predominantly Christian region. Their goal is to reach Nangololo, one of the country’s oldest Catholic missions. Highly symbolic!
The young men refusee, and the massacre began immediately: fifty-two were beheaded on the spot; most of those who tried to escape fell under the bullets.
Two days later, on April 9, Al-Chahad continued its sinister progression: five Christians were massacred in Muambala, and a church was burned down. Then came Nangololo, where the Catholic school and the Church of the Sacred Heart, one of the oldest in the country, were pillaged.
In extremis, the missionaries managed to flee towards Pemba, while their houses were burned. The next day, Good Friday, five people died in a new assault launched by the jihadists, including one burned alive.
Bishop Luiz Fernando Lisboa, bishop of Pemba, denounced this series of deadly attacks on April 27: “It is important that we know what is going on (...). Here the people have suffered a lot. There are hundreds of dead, thousands of people who have had to leave their homes. It is an injustice that cries out to heaven.”