A spokesman for the pontifical charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) reported this week that hundreds of children have been abducted by Islamic terrorists in Mozambique in recent months, with the boys being forced into becoming soldiers and the girls raped and taken as child brides.
Abduction of children by terrorists “is quite widespread,” said Fionn Shiner, Parliamentary and Press Officer for ACN-UK, in an interview with Crux. “It’s likely to get worse as the conflict develops.”
“Boys are being abducted to be forced into becoming child soldiers,” Shiner said. “Girls are forced to become child brides: They are raped and subjected to all manner of sexual abuse.”
As Breitbart News reported in April, Islamist militants in northern Mozambique have been carrying out a brutal campaign of violence and terror, in what has been described as a “truly indescribable” horror with “reports of children as young as 11 being beheaded.”
“What they do to the people they capture and kill I have never seen anywhere in Africa,” said one witness cited in a report by the Barnabas Fund, a charity that assists persecuted Christians.
According to Shiner, the ongoing abductions of children are motivated by a desire to “radicalize them” and make them effective warriors for the cause of Islam.
While the boys are “brainwashed into becoming terrorists,” the girls are put “under considerable pressure to convert to Islam and are taught about how to become ‘good Islamic mothers,’” he noted.
“There is a strong sexual motivation behind the kidnapping of the girls,” he said, citing eyewitness accounts that “the Christian girls who didn’t want to convert would become slaves of the fighters.”
Last Friday, Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi promised to eradicate the Islamist militants in the north of the country with the help of the 16 southern African countries in the SADC bloc who have approved the deployment of forces for this purpose.
“We will do everything to ensure that the coming times are of despair and agony for the terrorists operating in Mozambique,” Nyusi said in a televised address.
Mozambique’s “brave defence and security forces will intensify their operations to hunt down these criminals, getting the necessary support from SADC and friendly countries but without compromising our sovereignty as a nation,” he said.