Maputo — The Mozambican Minister of the Interior, Amade Miquidade, on Tuesday warned the Mozambican public and the international community that the videos circulating, which show gruesome atrocities supposedly committed by Mozambican troops in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, are a deliberate attempt to denigrate the defence and security forces.
He was speaking to reporters after the weekly meeting of the Council of Ministers (Cabinet), and was commenting on a spate of shocking videos, some of which have been circulated by the human rights organisation, Amnesty International.
The latest video, which appeared on Mozambican social media on Monday, shows men in uniform beating a completely naked and defenceless woman, and then executing her.
Miquidade said the uniforms used do not prove that the murderers are members of the Mozambican armed forces (FADM) since "the terrorists wear uniforms that are identical to those used by our forces".
To identify themselves to other terrorists they add marks to the uniforms, he said, "but when they want to undertake propaganda against the defence and security forces, and against the Mozambican state, they take off the markings that identify them, and make the videos that promote an image of atrocities practiced by those who defend the people, for our mission is to protect the people".
Miquidade declared that in reality it is the islamist terrorists, known locally as "Al Shabaab" (although they do not appear to have any connection with the Somali organisation of that name), who carry out "cruel, inhuman and atrocious acts against our population".
"In their macabre actions, the terrorists behead people, and cut them into pieces while still alive, thus causing a violent and pitiless death", he said.
The "macabre acts" depicted in the videos "are acts of subversion attempting to pose the people against the forces that are protecting them", Miquidade added, and the government is investigating where the videos come from.
He said the government wants to find "where the nucleus is that is making these videos". The origin of the videos is entirely unknown. When Amnesty International released the first videos last week, it said they came from "sources within Mozambique", and gave no hint as to their identity.
The mission of the Mozambican forces, said the Minister, "is to guarantee sovereignty, territorial integrity, and the defence of people and property. What the terrorists do is destroy our gains. Terrorism wants to slow down economic development".
There was "no relation" between the images on the videos and the defence and security forces. He insisted that the Mozambican forces would never do anything like the torture and execution of the naked woman shown in the latest video.
Miquidade praised "the heroism of our fighters, who sacrifice their own lives to guarantee the integrity of our country, in the bush of Cabo Delgado, or in the central provinces" (where the self-styled "Renamo Military Junta" is refusing to lay down its arms).
He added that over the years, in various parts of the world, "international terrorism has shown a capacity to produce disinformation". Psychological warfare is part of any war "and this is one of the fronts of terrorist activity".