Mozambique: Disturbances At Food Distribution in Palma

Maputo — Food distribution on Wednesday in the town of Palma, in the northern Mozambican province of Cabo Delgado, ended in gunshots when the defence and security forces tried to restore order to an unruly crowd, according to a report in Friday's issue of the independent newssheet "Mediafax".

Palma has been running short of food because the roads to the town have effectively been cut by terrorist activity. Some foodstuffs and other essential supplies have reached Palma by boat from the provincial capital, Pemba.

According to "Mediafax", townspeople suspected that the food distribution was shrouded in corruption. They made their discontent known on Monday, and on Wednesday a group invaded the distribution site, obliging the defence forces to fire into the air.

Members of the crowd claim that the Palma local authorities are ignoring the tickets distributed on Tuesday, which should grant ticket-holders a place in the queue. But they say that members of the families of local officials jumped the queue as did people prepared to pay bribes to move to the front.

The Wednesday disturbances began at about 09.00 and continued to about 13.00, when the distribution was interrupted and everybody was told to come back the following day.

Meanwhile, the defence forces have returned three girls, rescued from the terrorist gangs, to their families in Palma and in Macomia district. According to the local authorities, one of the girls was kidnapped last November, from Olombe village, in Palma, while the other two were abducted from the Mucojo administrative post, in Macomia, on 21 January.

The girls said that, in addition to physical and sexual assaults, they were obliged to carry our domestic tasks such as cooking for the terrorists. It was while they were about these chores that they took the opportunity to escape.

For the Palma district police commander, Arquimedes Dimas, the return of the girls provides hope for many other parents whose children have been kidnapped.

"Mediafax" also reported that four men, believed to be members of the terrorist group that has attacked villages in Nangade district in recent days, have been found dead after apparently committing suicide by hanging.

The suggestion is that they preferred to take their own lives rather than surrender to the authorities.

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