The execution squad first attacked several villages in Miudumbe and Macomia, abducting women and children and burning down homes, police told a press conference, according to Al Jazeera.
They then herded others to a sports field in Muatide where they started decapitating and chopping up more than 50 people, police officials said at a press conference Monday, the station said.
“They burned the houses then went after the population who had fled to the woods and started with their macabre actions,” said Bernardino Rafael, commander-general of Mozambique’s police.
Several people were also beheaded in another village, according to the BBC, citing state-run media.
The extremists — who have been fighting to form a local Islamic state there — chanted “Allahu Akbar” during the savage attacks that started Friday and continued till Sunday, the BBC said.
The gas-rich Cabo Delgado province has seen a number of gruesome attacks by extremists since 2017, which Amnesty International said has left more than 2,000 dead and 300,000 displaced.
The militants call themselves “Al-Shabaab,” although they have no known links to the group with the same name in Somalia, Al Jazeera noted.
They have yet to make any political demands during their three years of mass slaughters, but last year pledged allegiance to ISIS. Amnesty International said. The group, also known as Ansar al-Sunna, has been building its own mosques and Islamic society while opposing Western-style institutions, Africa’s Daily Maverick newspaper has said.
However, some analysts told Al Jazeera that poverty may be the real driving force, rather than jihad.
Amnesty International has also accused Mozambican security forces of human rights abuses — including torture and killings — during operations to curb the insurgency.
The UK’s foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, on Tuesday said his nation was “appalled by reports of the beheading of dozens of civilians.”
“This is part of a pattern of escalating attacks in north-east Mozambique. We remain in close contact with the Mozambican authorities to tackle the root causes of conflict,” he tweeted.