Mozambique –Human rights watchdog, Amnesty International has called for an independent probe into the killing of a naked pregnant woman by men in military uniform in Mozambique’s restive north, an atrocity the government blamed on armed rebels.

Video footage emerged this week showing men in government army uniform beating a woman they accused of being a member of an armed group and then shooting her in the back as she tried to flee.

“Four different gunmen shot her a total of 36 times with a variety of Kalashnikov rifles and a PKM-style machine gun,” Amnesty said, demanding an “impartial investigation into the extrajudicial killing”.

One of the uniformed men hits her in the head and body with a stick before others took turns shooting her and, they say in the video, kill her on the side of the road.

It was filmed in the northernmost province of Cabo Delgado, where soldiers are fighting an armed rebellion.

Amnesty cited a local military source as saying they killed her because she had cast a spell on the army, and refused to show them the insurgents’ hideout.

Last week, the rights group said it had verified videos showing attempted beheadings, torture, the dismemberment of alleged opposition fighters and possible extrajudicial executions.

“This horrendous video is yet another gruesome example of the gross human rights violations and merciless killings taking place in Cabo Delgado by the Mozambican security forces,” said Deprose Muchena, Amnesty International’s director for East and Southern Africa.

But Interior Minister Amade Miquidade on Tuesday said the killers were armed fighters dressed in uniforms “identical” to that of government troops.

“The video showing atrocities against a pregnant woman is propaganda by terrorists,” he said in an audio statement.

“The video was made by terrorists … to confuse the public and it is not the first time that this has happened.”