The Mozambican police detained two groups of a religious sect whose members renounced their property in villages to gather in forests in the central interior of the country, a police source said yesterday. The case took place in Tete province and authorities suspect links to insurgent movements, investigating whether there are links with rebels in Cabo Delgado, he added. The first group of 14 members, all adult males, was intercepted on 7 September in a vehicle traveling through the interior of Tsangano district. The second group with 44 members, which included 19 women and 17 children, aged between 4 months and 17 years, has been in police custody since Sunday. They were detained in a camp in dense forest in the village of Chicachirue, on the border between the districts of Angónia and Tsangano, on the border with Malawi, explained Feliciano da Câmara, spokesman for the provincial police command in Tete. Among the members are four teachers who teach in schools in both districts. The remaining members renounced their jobs and possessions to carry out a “supposed religious ceremony”. The police are trying to “identify the religious sect and all the contours that led them to find themselves in that place, as they were taking with them food and clothes, among others”, explained the spokesman, adding that the operation to neutralize the groups departed from a complaint. The groups were taken to the premises in the Angónia district police command, where they remain, and will be held responsible, from the outset, “for violating the presidential decree”, which prohibits religious meetings during covid-19 time. At the same time, there is an investigation into the motivations for grouping in the forest. The police are investigating whether the group is “related to the security issues that exist in northern Mozambique, specifically in Cabo Delgado”, he concluded. Cabo Delgado is a province rich in natural gas, but has been terrorized since 2017 by armed rebels, with some attacks claimed by the Islamic State extremist group. The conflict has already caused more than 3,100 deaths, according to the ACLED conflict registration project, and more than 817,000 displaced, according to Mozambican authorities. (Lusa)   Source: Carta de Moçambique

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