Fighters step up attacks in Mozambique gas region, multiple beheadings reported say United Nations

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Dozens of people are fleeing a series of attacks in northern Mozambique where witnesses have described beheadings, mass kidnappings and villages burned to the ground, the United Nations said on Friday.

In recent weeks, Islamic State has claimed responsibility via its media outlets, though there has been no independent confirmation of a link.

Officials said armed groups had stepped up assaults in Cabo Delgado province, the center of an Islamist insurgency that has killed hundreds since it started over three years ago.

Andrej Mahecic, the spokesman for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said that villagers who have been displaced have witnessed killings, maiming, torture and destroyed crops.

At a press briefing held in Geneva, Mahecicc said that men in particular were being targeted and beheaded, and there were many reports of women and children being kidnapped or simply disappearing.

Some of the attackers appeared to be bandits. "However, there is also the element of some of the groups being driven by ideological or other ideas. They have been quite vicious in spreading the terror in this part of Mozambique," Mahecic added.

The UNHCR said there had been a sharp increase in violence in recent months, and the last few weeks had been the most turbulent period since attacks began in October 2017. Overall, 100,000 people have been uprooted by the violence in the last two years. #Mozambique #UnitedNations #IslamicState