bodies of 12 beheaded expats have been found tied up under a mango tree in northern Mozambique after they tried to to flee an ISIS massacre.
Dozens of innocent people, including children, were ruthlessly killed when terrorist militants went on the rampage in the key industrial town of Palma.
Pedro da Silva, commander of the police station in the nearby village of Quitunda, said the bodies of the expats had since been buried in a mass grave, according to reports.
“In total there were 12. They were all foreigners, I don’t know what nationality, but they were all white,” Silva told The Times.
“They were tied up and beheaded here. I was the one directing the burial.”
Some 200 people, mostly foreign workers, were besieged for days by ISIS-linked militants at Amarula Lodge in the town of Palma.
A group of 60 tried to escape in a convoy of 17 cars on March 26, but they were ambushed outside the gates of the hotel, The Times reports.
British contractor Philip Mawer, from Somerset, was gunned down in the ambush, the newspaper reported.
Adrian Nel, a South African, was also killed in the bloodbath.
Nick Alexander, a dual British-South African citizen, spent two nights crawling through bushland before being rescued with his colleague, Niraj Ramlagan, by South African mercenaries.
The former cop was at the back of a convoy of expats leaving the hotel.
The militants were eventually driven out of the town by the Mozambique security forces after 10 days of violence.
But dozens of expats, including British, French and South African nationals, are still missing.
Aid workers believe tens of thousands of people fled the assault, which began on March 24.
Many could still be hiding in nearby forests, the international aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres said, and those who emerged have recounted seeing bodies of others who died of hunger or dehydration along the way.
Some were also killed by crocodiles or died in deep mud, according to a contractor speaking to Reuters.
Shocking photos and videos obtained by Sky News reveal the true scale of the attack, which left some victims beheaded near a huge gas field.
Some horror images portray the corpses of those brutally murdered after being pulled from their lorries by cold-blooded killers in the African nation.
Others show clouds of smoke billowing from buildings after the militants worked their way through the town killing those they came across.
One picture, taken from the air, shows people waiting to be rescued next to stones and white bed sheets spelling out the words “Help” and “SOS”.
Eyewitnesses told Sky the Islamic State fanatics ruthlessly attacked nearby villages ahead of their main assault on Palma.
“The Mozambique army was completely caught off guard, they were being attacked from the inside,” one security analyst who did not want to be named revealed.
“They didn’t know which way to turn, some just abandoned their positions and ran,” he added.
Banks have been looted, government buildings and vehicles have been set on fire and much of Palma has been destroyed.
A security consultant told the Sunday Times that the town was “chaotic and with no real sign of anyone on the offensive… the insurgents are doing as they please”.
Human Rights Watch said witnesses described “bodies on the streets and residents fleeing after the… fighters fired indiscriminately at people and buildings”.
Luisa Jose, a 52-year-old mother of five, said she came face-to-face with ISIS-linked insurgents when they attacked the gas hub town.
“I was running to save my life… they were coming from every street,” she told Reuters from a stadium in the port city of Pemba housing some of the thousands who have fled the violence.
“I saw them with bazookas. They wore uniforms with red scarves… tied to their heads.”
Jose said she spent almost five days in the bush – eating bitter cassava tubers and drinking from cloudy pools of water – before making it to a village for people relocated by the mega gas projects.
She said she was evacuated by Total but had to leave behind more than six family members, including her husband and a daughter, because there was no room on the boat.
ISIS-linked militants have been attempting to gain control of the north east region of Cabo Delgado in the country since 2017.
The insurgency has left more than 2,500 people dead and 700,000 displaced.
Palma is in the north of the province and is near a multi-billion-dollar gas project run by Total.
The town was once considered a refuge for those fleeing Islamist violence elsewhere in Cabo Delgado province because of its proximity to gas projects worth $60 billion.
But insurgents have stepped up attacks in the province over the past year, taking over entire towns for days at a time.
Some 100 militants, many with Islamic State flags, now control the mining town of 53,000 near Africa’s largest natural gas field.