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Mozambique marks massacre ahead of independence anniversary

Ahead of 40th independence anniversary celebrations next week, Mozambique has marked the 1960 Mueda massacre when up to 600 protesters were gunned down by Portuguese troops.

The killings on June 16, 1955 marked one of the most brutal episodes of the Portuguese empire and the event was one of the triggers of Mozambique’s war against colonial rule.

Portuguese settlers opened fire on villagers who were peacefully protesting against the arrest of some local leaders.

Portuguese archives say only 14 people were killed, but the Mozambican government records 600 deaths.

President Filipe Nyusi, who led the commemorations on Tuesday, said the massacre was a turning point for the country.

“People quickly resolved to support the struggle for independence in reaction to the pain caused by the Mueda massacre,” Nyusi told a crowd of hundreds gathered at the scene of the killings.

Two years after the killings, the guerrilla movement Mozambique Liberation Front (Frelimo) was created and in 1964 it launched the independence war.

Mozambique became independent from Portugal on June 25, 1975.

Mueda, the birthplace of Nyusi, remains a stronghold of the formerly marxist Frelimo party which has ruled the gas-rich country for the past 40 years.