The United Nations Resident Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr Edward Kallon, on Sunday said that that over 110 farmers, not 43, were killed by Boko Haram terrorists on Saturday in Zabarmari village, a rice farming community in Jere Local Government Area of Borno State, Northeast Nigeria.
Mr Kallon said in a statement that many were also wounded in the ‘ruthless’ attack.
According to the UN Coordinator in Nigeria, “I am outraged and horrified by the gruesome attack against civilians carried out by non-state armed groups in villages near Borno State capital Maiduguri. At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack.
“In early afternoon of 28 November, armed men on motorcycles led a brutal attack on civilian men and women who were harvesting their fields in Koshobe and other rural communities in Jere Local Government Area. Reports we are receiving are indicating these innocent farmers were the victims of this callous violence.
“I extend my sincere condolences to the families of the civilians who lost their lives in this atrocious attack. I also wish a speedy recovery to those who were wounded in the incident.
“We have also received reports that several women may have been kidnapped. I call for their immediate release and return to safety.
“My thoughts are also with the rural communities in the area, who are shocked by the brutality of yesterday’s attack and fear for their safety.
“The entire UN system and the humanitarian community working to provide life-saving and development assistance to the most vulnerable in Borno State is outraged by the incident. Such direct attacks against innocent civilians jeopardize the ability for the most vulnerable people to survive the adversity there are facing, and which we are striving to alleviate.
“The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year. I call for the perpetrators of this heinous and senseless act to be brought to justice.
“It is unfortunately one of too many such attacks targeting farmers, fishermen and families who are trying to recover some livelihood opportunity after over a decade of conflict.
“I strongly condemn this attack and any act of violence against innocent civilians and I firmly urge all actors on the ground to respect international laws and humanity.
“Rural communities in Borno State are facing untold hardships. Helping them to farm land and rebuild livelihoods are amongst our priorities and the only way to avoid the looming food crisis in Borno State. They and all other civilians need to be protected and spared from any kind of violence.
“Innocent women, children and men desperately need food and other support and assistance, particularly at a time when we are recording some of the highest levels of food insecurity in Borno State. We owe to do our utmost to help them survive these difficult times.”
Borno State Governor, Babagana Zulum had earlier on Sunday participated in the funeral prayers for the 43 victims of the attack.
The rice farmers were killed on their farms in Koshebe area of Zabarmari village, with one of the local hunters who participated in a search and rescue operation, saying that most of the farmers found dead in the rice field had their throats slit.
Said the hunter, “we have recovered 43 corpses. The attackers slaughtered all of them. As we speak, there is great disquiet and mourning in our communities.”
Chairman Rice Farmers Association in Zabarmari, Malam Hassan, who corroborated the sad incident, expressed dismay over the senseless and vicious killing of innocent farmers, including children.
“It is very sad, for us, that these people went to their farms to work, only to be attacked and killed in this manner. So far, we have recovered 43 corpses, including children.”