In response, a spokesperson for the child rights and humanitarian organisation Plan International, said:
“We are shocked and saddened by these reports. Communications are still extremely poor, but it is now feared that dozens in Palma have been brutally killed. Our thoughts are with their families and loved ones.
“Children in Mozambique should not have to grow up in fear of violence. Non-state armed groups must immediately stop all attacks against the civilian population and allow safe access to rescue and humanitarian personnel, respecting international humanitarian law.
“We are devastated that children and their families continue to be caught up in these horrific attacks by armed groups. Last year saw the highest number of attacks against civilians in Mozambique’s recent history, with more than one per day, most of them related to the conflict in Cabo Delgado province.
“This has also led to more than 670,000 people being forced to flee their homes, nearly half (45%) of whom are children. Many have witnessed horrors unimaginable to most adults. As families struggle to cope, girls in particular are at high risk of sexual and gender-based violence, sexual exploitation and forced marriage, while boys are vulnerable to being recruited by armed actors.
“This violence must stop, and families who have been caught up in the conflict must be supported to recover and rebuild their lives.”
Plan International is supporting people who have been displaced by the conflict in Cabo Delgado, and is providing 40,000 children and their families in Nampula province with education, clean water, child protection and sexual and reproductive health programmes.