Borno Massacre: 43 Rice Farmers Killed

The number of rice farmers slaughtered by Boko Haram fighters on Saturday at Koshobe village near Maiduguri has hit 110, the United Nations Office in Nigeria, said Sunday hours after 43 of the victims were buried.

Humanitarian agencies said more bodies of the Zabarmari villagers killed by the insurgents in rice fields were being recovered from far-flung areas.

Edward Kallon, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, said in a statement yesterday that over 110 farmers were killed by the Boko Haram assailants on Saturday.

Kallon, who is also the Resident Representative of the United Nations Development Programme in Nigeria, said they were devastated by the killing of the vulnerable civilians. It was learnt that the 43 bodies recovered from one of the scenes of Saturday’s carnage were the ones buried at the first instance, with officials saying more bodies would be buried in the coming days.

The 43 were buried at the Zabarmari cemetery, their ancestral home, amidst wailing by their loved ones and acquaintances.

There has been outrage over the incident by citizens, who have expressed frustration over the continuous killings across the country. Most of them took to social media to condemn the act and call on the government to take a decisive action against criminals.

The Borno attack is coming after about two weeks of continuous kidnappings and killings across the country, with the north being the worst hit region. A development which caused the Sultan of Sokoto, Alhaji Muhammadu Sa’ad Abubakar, to describe the north as the worst place to live in now.

The Yoruba socio-political group, Afenifere and that of the northern region, Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF) also condemned the attacks, calling on the government to protect citizens.

Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has condemned the killings. In a statement through his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, the president described the act as dastardly, saying the government had given the armed forces the needed support to protect the country’s population and its territory.

Mallam Abubakar Yunus, who lost two of his sons to the ungodly act, said he was arrested along with his children and that they were slaughtered in his presence.

“People were working on their farms. At our site, the whole thing started at about 10.30 am when the Boko Haram fighters, armed with guns, came wearing army uniforms and surrounded us.

“They slaughtered my sons in my presence and one of them asked me who they were to me! I replied that they were my children. I am still in shock as to how people could be that heartless,” he said.

Another source said it was the productive population in the community that was decimated.

“Those killed were our future; they were the breadwinners. They were agile men killed in their prime; we will never recover from this because a whole generation was wiped away. They left us the elderly behind alongside their wives and vulnerable children,” he said.

Daily Trust reports that farmers including women and children who were harvesting their rice in fields around Zabarmari, just 25 kilometres away from Maiduguri, the Borno State capital, were rounded up between 9 am and noon on Saturday.

They were reportedly held hostage at gunpoint and railroaded to an isolated area and slaughtered, one after the other, Daily Trust gathered.

The number excludes dozens killed in different locations around Zabarmari and adjoining localities.

The areas could not be accessed on Saturday because the terrorists also set most of the farmlands on fire, credible sources including community leaders, survivors and local vigilantes, said.

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