Attackers hacked seven people to death with machetes and torched dozens of homes on Tuesday in northern Mozambique, a region that has suffered a spate of similar attacks in recent weeks.
The area, Cabo Delgado province that is expected to become the centre of a nascent natural gas industry after several promising discoveries, has seen a number of deadly assaults on both security forces and civilians since October.
“The bandits used machetes to kill the seven persons. We think this group is likely part of the [one] that beheaded 10 [people on] May 27,” police spokesman Inacio Dina told AFP news agency, referring to an attack last month in the same region.
The assailants in a dawn raid on Tuesday burned down 164 houses and destroyed four cars during the assault on the village of Naude in the Macomia district, he said.
The attackers, described by locals and officials as “al-Shabab”, have no known link to the Somali armed group of the same name.
According to Dina, the suggested group might have been linked to the nine “insurgents” killed by security forces over the weekend, who were subsequently found to be carrying assault rifles and Arabic-language documents.
Police reinforcements were previously sent to the region to step up security.
The increase in attacks in the north of the country could pose a problem for Mozambique, which holds general elections next year and hopes to cash in on the recently discovered gas reserves.
Mozambique last month passed an anti-terrorism law that punishes “terrorist” activity with prison sentences of more than 40 years