Survivors of the Islamic insurgence attack in northern Mozambique are recounting the horror attack in Palma, the coastal hub for a multi-billion-dollar gas project.
An unknown number of people are said to have been killed while thousands are said to have fled from their homes.
The attack is dubbed the biggest escalation of the Islamist insurgency ravaging the region since 2017.
Mariamo Assane who survived the attack broke down reliving the harrowing day she fled a ferocious rampage by Islamist militants.
After she reached safety in Pemba, the capital of the northern Cabo Delgado province about 200 kilometres (120 miles to the south, Mariamo who is in her 30s, recalled the grim sight of bodies scattered along the way as she fled. She said:
I had lost hope of living. Never in my life had I run so much.
I don’t know if I will ever forget that.
Morasse Ali, 26, said he spent four days in the bush without food or water. He has no idea if his wife and son are dead or alive. Morasse said:
Those bandits arrived at my house, captured my family and took them away.
Heavily pregnant Fatua Abdalal, 26, said she went into labour shortly after she and her two other very young children fled Palma.
As she trekked through the bush, she gave birth, on her own, before being evacuated to Pemba.
Thirty-year-old Nvita Nchute said he was at a local market when the shooting started and was evacuated by ship to Pemba late last week, although he now doesn’t know the whereabouts of his wife.
With tears streaming down his face, as he sat at a temporary shelter in Pemba’s Eduardo Mondlane neighbourhood, popularly known as Expansao, Nvita Nchute said:
I couldn’t go (back home) to look for my wife.
Shelley Thakral, the spokeswoman for the World Food Programme in Pemba, told AFP that the survivors of the attack have “witnessed horrors, they have heard gunshots, they talk about people waving guns in their faces, escaping to the bush, walking on foot” She added:
They are clearly distressed and tired and just in shock.
Zimbabwean mercenary, Lionel Dyck who owns Dyck Advisory Group, a private military company helping Mozambican forces fight the extremists, last week spoke of seeing decapitated bodies on the streets.
Dyck told the BBC that when his team reached Palma on the first day of the attack “there were bodies lying on the road” adding that the corpses of some truck drivers delivering food aid were “lying next to their vehicles without heads”.