Population of Palma, Cabo Delgado village, northern Mozambique, on Wednesday buried 24 victims of an attack a week ago against two public transport vehicles.
The bodies of 24 adults and children, shot dead a week ago and already decomposing, were buried last Wednesday near the site of the attack and the destroyed vehicles, on a dirt road, in the woods, near Pundanhar, about 40 kilometers from Palma, district of natural gas megaprojects in the northern province of Cabo Delgado.
According to reports by six sources – family members, friends and people involved in the burial and who spoke anonymously, alleging security issues – among the victims were the ‘zone chief’ (local leader) of Boa Viagem, in the Incularino neighborhood in Palma and his wife.
The couple traveled with various goods to move to Nampula, the southernmost province. They were the only two to be buried in a neighboring village, after family members managed to take a coffin to the site.
It was the family of this officer who on Tuesday, despite the insecurity, visited the site of the attack and returned to Palma, alerting several victims who were in the area around the vehicles and with marks of having been shot. Among them was at least one foreign citizen, Pakistani, trader established and known in Palma.
On Wednesday, a larger group traveled from the village to that point on the road to bury relatives and friends expeditiously: “where there were two bodies together, they opened a grave at the side and placed them. When they were more, they opened a bigger grave ”, keeping them together, they described.
The vehicles ambushed on Saturday, September 12, in the morning, transported people and goods from Palma to Mueda. According to reports by survivors, the armed group that attacked them ordered the vehicles to stop: the first did not stop, but the two that followed behind were the target of the firearms and one was set on fire.
Military sources in the region confirmed the attack, also reported by the US-based ACLED (Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project) project, which follows the armed conflict in Cabo Delgado and indicates that the incident happened alongside other incursions next to Pundanhar on the 11th and 12th of September.
Palma is the seat of the district that hosts the largest private investment in Africa: the mega project for the extraction of natural gas led by Total, under construction and scheduled to start production in 2024.
The route where the attack took place, which runs along the border with Tanzania, has been the only land link still used with relative safety to serve Palma, given that insurgent groups have made it risky to move south, towards Mocímboa da Praia, through the only asphalted road in Cabo Delgado.