Suspected ISIS-linked extremists beheaded a pastor, handed his severed head to his wife and forced her to carry the head to the police station in the southern African country of Mozambique, according to reports.
The jihadist militants decapitated the pastor, a resident of Nova Zambezia area in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, last Wednesday, the U.S.-based persecution watchdog International Christian Concern said.
The killing was also reported by the Daily Mail, but the pastor’s name has not been disclosed.
Zimbabwe Daily also reported on the murder, saying the pastor’s wife told police that “suspected Islamic State-linked insurgents intercepted the pastor in a field, decapitated him and then handed over his head to her and ordered her to inform the authorities.”
Earlier this month, the U.K.-based watchdog organization Human Rights Watch reported that an armed group in Cabo Delgado province called Al Sunnah wa Jama’ah, also known as Al-Shabab, had forced kidnapped women and girls to “marry” their fighters.
Other women and girls held captive had been sold to foreign fighters for between $600 and $1,800, according to the report. Some abducted foreign women and girls had been released after their families paid a ransom.
Last November, ISIS-linked militants beheaded over 50 people, including women and children, and abducted others in raids in the Miudumbe and Macomia districts of the Cabo Delgado province.
The day after the pastor’s murder, Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi claimed that the number of jihadist attacks had decreased this year after Rwanda and neighboring countries helped tackle the radical Islamic jihadist insurgency.
The oil-rich Cabo Delgado province, a coastal region on the Indian Ocean, has suffered an emergence of a jihadi movement that has displaced thousands and killed hundreds since 2017. In 2018, the terror group pledged its allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. In 2019, the Islamic State confirmed the group as an affiliate and has claimed responsibility for some attacks.
The Al-Shabab group in the majority-Christian country of Mozambique is not believed to have any connection with the deadly Somalia-based terror group with the same name.
According to the Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project (ACLED), the Cabo Delgado province had suffered from at least 776 “organized violence events” since 2017, and as of January 2021, 2,578 “fatalities from organized violence” and 1,305 “fatalities from civilian targeting.”
The United Nations estimates more than 745,000 people are internally displaced in Mozambique due to Islamic extremism since 2017.
Mozambique also ranks as the 45th worst country for Christian persecution on Open Doors USA’s 2021 World Watch List. This 2021 report is the first time the country has been listed on Open Doors’ annual list.
Extremist attacks have killed many Christians, and terrorists have burned churches and schools in the country.