Rebel group deploys child soldiers in Mozambique


Child soldiers

from ARMANDO DOMINGOS in Maputo, Mozambique
Mozambique Bureau
MAPUTO, (CAJ News) – AN armed group linked to the Islamic State (ISIS) allegedly used children as soldiers to raid and loot the town of Macomia in northern Mozambique recently.

Boys as young as 13 were reportedly used, in what is a new twist to the conflict in the Cabo Delgado province.

It is unclear if the children also engaged in fighting against government armed forces.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) reminded the recruitment and use of children under age of 15 as child soldiers is a war crime.

The armed group, known locally as Al-Shabab, attacked Macomia to loot shops and warehouses before targeting government forces’ positions in the town, triggering heavy fighting.

“The armed group Al-Shabab’s use of children as soldiers is cruel, unlawful, and only adds to the horrors of Cabo Delgado’s conflict,” said Zenaida Machado, senior Africa researcher at HRW.

“Al-Shabab should immediately release all children in their ranks and stop any further recruitment.”

Footage reportedly seen by HRW, and now widely shared on social media, appeared to show some of the fighters, including a child, carrying guns and freely moving near a local market.

President Filipe Nyusi confirmed the raid, which took place in an area that the Southern African military mission previously controlled.

The military mission is gradually withdrawing from Mozambique ahead of a July deadline.

More than 700 people fled the fighting that started on May 10 and continued through May 12, according to the International Organization for Migration (IOM).

Some of the displaced sought to hide in the surrounding forests according to press reports and footage shared online.

At least ten people, mostly soldiers, were reportedly killed in the recent fighting.

– CAJ News

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