HRW Report Alleges Jihadists Used Child Soldiers In Mozambique Raid

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A Human Rights Watch (HRW) report has alleged that child soldiers were used by an Islamic State-linked group to attack and plunder a town in northern Mozambique.

The charity said boys as young as the age of 13 raided Macomia town in Cabo Delgado province on 10 May. However, it is not known whether the children fought against the government’s armed forces.

The Al-Shabaab raid sparked heavy fighting after the group targeted government forces and also looted warehouses and shops.

HRW heard from witnesses that dozens of boys were among the Al-Shabaab fighters carrying “ammunition belts and AK-style assault rifles.”

Two members of a family said they saw their 13-year-old nephew among the group’s members.

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

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

Residents and aid workers told the aid agency that dozens of fighters arrived in Macomia at about 04:00 local time on 10 May.

The International Organization for Migration said the fighting, which started on 10 May and ended on 12 May, resulted in more than 700 people fleeing.

HRW says the Al-Shabaab armed group has used children to fight for years, citing their report in 2021 where kidnapped boys were said to fight government forces.