The government in Mozambique has said it will investigate allegations that security forces carried out abuses that are blamed for the flight of thousands of Mozambicans to neighboring Malawi.

The government says its deputy justice minister and deputy interior minister will lead the investigation, which was welcomed by New York-based Human Rights Watch. The announcement about the commission of inquiry was published Thursday in Noticias, a state-owned newspaper.

Activists and journalists have documented refugees' accounts of arbitrary executions and sexual assault allegedly committed by Mozambican soldiers tasked with disarming opposition fighters in the coal-rich Tete province, an opposition stronghold. The Mozambican government has countered that the exodus was provoked by attacks by fighters of the opposition Renamo group, and that the refugees are themselves members of Renamo.