Just over two weeks ago -- even the exact date is in dispute -- a party of black and white Rhodesian soldiers crossed the border into neighbouring Mozambique and launched an attack on a camp at a place called Nyazonia which housed a large number of black Rhodesian refugees.
Just over two weeks ago -- even the exact date is in dispute -- a party of black and white Rhodesian soldiers crossed the border into neighbouring Mozambique and launched an attack on a camp at a place called Nyazonia which housed a large number of black Rhodesian refugees. During the attack, many of the inmates of the camp were killed. That much is agreed by both sides. However, the Rhodesian government says that the victims were terrorists and that only about three hundred were killed, while the Mozambiquans say that more than 670 were killed and that they were mostly civilian refugees, many of them women and children.
SYNOPSIS: According to a Rhodesian statement, their forces had attacked a terrorist command headquarters and base camp in Mozambique. A Rhodesian Minister, Mr. Van der Byl, added that the camp had always housed guerrillas and had nothing to do with refugees.
According to Mozambiquan sources, however, the camp was not a guerrilla camp at all, but had housed 8,000 civilian refugees from Rhodesia, including old men, women and children, all of them unarmed and defenceless. Survivors quoted in the Mozambiquan press said that the Rhodesian troops had been wearing FRELIMO-style uniforms and that the whites among them had blackened their faces. Thinking that they were friends, they said, the refugees had welcomed the soldiers who had then opened fire, mowing own hundreds of all ages and sexes. Later, said the survivors, the bodies of the women and children had been piled into huts and burned, to give the impression that the victims had been all, or mostly, men. At least ten common graves had later been dug by the villagers in which the bodies of the dead were piled.
The Mozambiquan survivors also described how some people travelling along a road, including technicians and a priest, had been killed while in their cars.
Mozambiquan medical staff on the scene after the raid put the total death toll as high as 800. But they said that many more had been wounded and had run in terror into the surrounding bush, from which they were still returning a week later. Three hundred of these are being traded in the hospital at Chimoio, 75 kilometres (46 miles) from Nyazonia.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan, later described the Rhodesian raid as "a shocking and abdominal atrocity". However, the Rhodesian government has said that Rhodesian troops had nothing to do with the killing of women and children. If this occurred, Mr. Van der Byl told the Rhodesian Parliament, it could have been on the orders of Mozambique President Samora Machel.