An armed group in northern Mozambique killed at least 52 people in a village on April 7 after residents refused to join them, police said.
“The criminals tried to recruit young people to join their ranks, but there was resistance on the part of the youths. This provoked the anger of the criminals, who indiscriminately killed – cruelly and diabolically – 52 young people,” police spokesman Orlando Mudumane told the state-owned broadcasting service on Tuesday.
The killings took place in the village of Xitaxi in Muidumbe district.
Mudumane said the people were “massacred”.
Police said they have launched a hunt for the attackers.
Armed fighters have in recent weeks stepped up attacks as part of a campaign to establish an Islamic kingdom in the gas-rich region, seizing government buildings, blocking roads and briefly hoisting their black-and-white flag over towns and villages across Cabo Delgado province.
For more than two years the armed group mainly targeted isolated villages, killing more than 700 people, according to medical charity Doctors Without Borders (MSF), and displacing at least 200,000, according to a local Catholic archbishop, Dom Luiz Fernando.