Maputo – The Mozambique government has agreed to carry out an investigation into the deaths of 12 inmates in a prison cell at a jail in the north of the country earlier this week.
In a statement issued late Tuesday night, the country’s Police General Command confirmed the deaths at the prison in Mongincual, in the province of Nampula overnight Monday.
The statement said that police had originally arrested 29 people on March 14 in connection with local demonstrations. Of these 12 later died in prison.
The dozen were thought to be ringleaders of the protests. An unnamed government official told Radio Mocambique that there had been blood stains on the floor of the prison cell, suggesting a violent confrontation of some kind, either among the detainees or with someone else.
There is some speculation that the deaths could be a vendetta by police after two officers were killed and five injured during the demonstrations.
The region is bracing itself for a severe cholera epidemic, which has already killed several locals.
The prison incident echoes the death of hundreds of protesters in a jailhouse in the town of Montepuez in the northern province of Cabo Delgado, in 1999. (dpa)