Islamist militants have seized control of the town of Palma in Mozambique’s northern province of Cabo Delgado, killing several people, including a foreign worker, DW reports.
According to the reports, the army has been fighting the rebels for five days straight, as reports came in that bodies were ‘littering the streets.’
Reports by Human Rights Watch revealed that some of the dead had been beheaded.
A spokesman for Mozambique’s Defense Ministry, Omar Saranga, confirmed that dozens of people have been killed in the attack, including seven who were killed during an ambush on an attempted rescue.
“Last Wednesday, a group of terrorists sneaked into … Palma and launched actions that resulted in the cowardly murder of dozens of defenseless people,” Saranga told a news conference in the capital Maputo.
The spokesman also said that the military was in the process of pushing back the militants and trying to rescue civilians caught up in the violence.
Nearly 200 people had been sheltering in the Amarula Palma hotel during the attack, three diplomats and one of the organizations with people inside told Reuters news agency.
Around 80 people were taken away from the hotel in military trucks on Friday, but some of the vehicles were ambushed, an official from a private security firm involved in the rescue operation, told AFP news agency.
It was not immediately clear how many people, if any, remained in the hotel and how many were missing. The status of hundreds of foreign workers was also unknown.