The death toll in a suspected Boko Haram attack on farmers in northeastern Nigeria on Saturday has reached at least 110, a UN humanitarian coordinator in the country said, urging the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
“At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others wounded in this attack,” Edward Kallon, the UN’s humanitarian coordinator in Nigeria, said in a statement.
The incident was the “most violent direct attack against innocent civilians” in the country in 2020, Kallon pointed out. The perpetrators of this “heinous and senseless” act must be brought to justice, he added.
A group of armed men on motorcycles ambushed the farmers as they went into the rice fields to gather the harvest on Saturday. The bodies of 43 farmers have been recovered after the massacre, with around 30 of them being beheaded. The security forces have been searching the area for those missing.
“Several women” have also been kidnapped by the militants, with Kallon calling for their safe and swift release.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the tactics of the insurgents resembled those used by Islamic State-affiliate Boko Haram, which is responsible for thousands of civilian deaths in Nigeria over the past decade.
The burial ceremony for the 43 victims took place in Zabarmari village on Sunday, attended by hundreds of mourners and Borno state Governor Babagana Zulum.
The bodies were wrapped in white burial shrouds and placed on wooden pallets as the priests led prayers for those killed.
During his speech, Zulum called upon the federal government to recruit more security personnel to protect the local farmers, who found themselves “in a very difficult situation.”
“On one side, they stay at home they may be killed by hunger and starvation, on the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents,” he pointed out.
There’s been a sharp spike in food prices in Nigeria recently caused by flooding, the closure of borders and the activities of militants in agricultural areas.
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