A pastor in the Macomia district of Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, was abducted and decapitated by Islamist extremists on 15 December.
The Islamists then ordered the pastor’s widow to carry the head in a sack to a district police station and report the murder.
The incident is the latest act of brutality in a region that has suffered much from shocking violence in recent years.
In March 2021 dozens of people were killed and thousands forced to flee after hundreds of Islamist militants attacked a coastal town in Cabo Delgado, a province rich in oil and gas reserves.
The militant Islamic State-affiliated organisation Ahlu Sunnah Wa-Jama, known locally as Al Shabaab (not the Somali-based group of the same name), effectively gained control of an area of Cabo Delgado in 2017.
Beheading, skinning and cutting off the limbs of their victims are the group’s typical methods, with one expert commenting, “What they do to the people they capture and kill I have never seen anywhere in Africa.”
It is only in the last few weeks that Mozambican, Rwandan and South African forces have started to drive the Islamists back.