Maputo-Suspected militants beheaded over a dozen men and teenagers participating in a male initiation ceremony in Mozambique, local sources said Wednesday, in the latest violent incident in the insurgency-hit northeast.

The dismembered bodies of at least five adults and 15 boys were found on Monday, scattered across a forest clearing in Muidumbe district. The militants operating in the area had attacked several nearby villages over the weekend, looting and burning down homes before retreating into surrounding thicket.

“Police learnt of the massacre committed by the insurgents through reports of people who found corpses in the woods,” said an officer in the neighbouring Mueda district who asked not to be named.

“It was possible to count 20 bodies spread over an area of about 500 metres (yards),” he added. “These were young people who were at an initiation rite ceremony accompanied by their advisers.”