At least 44 rice farmers were killed by suspected members of the Boko Haram while harvesting their crops, a lawmaker and sources have said.
Sources in Zabarmari, a Borno community known for rice farming, informed PREMIUM TIMES the farmers were attacked as they were working on a rice field at Garin Kwashebe.
The farmers were attacked on Saturday as residents of the state were voting to elect local government council officials, for the first time in 13 years.
The sources said the farmers “were rounded up and summarily slaughtered by the armed insurgents”.
Hassan Zabarmari, a former chairman of a rice farmers association in Borno State, confirmed the incident to PREMIUM TIMES on phone.
“It was a sad incident that took place at about 11 a.m today,” he said Saturday. “The farmers were attacked at the Garin-Kwashebe rice field, and according to reports reaching us since afternoon, about 40 of them were killed.”
“But we have been receiving conflicting information on the casualty figures – some said it was up to 50 farmers that were slaughtered.”
A member of House Representatives, Ahmed Satomi, who represents Jere federal constituency also confirmed the incident in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES.
“It was a very sad development that happened today at Zabarmari rice field general area,” he said.
“Farmers and fishermen were killed in cold blood. We have so far received 44 corpses from the farms and we are preparing for their burials tomorrow by God’s grace.”
The lawmaker said the farmers “were attacked because they had on Friday disarmed and arrested a Boko Haram gunman who had been tormenting them.”
The Borno State police public relations officer, Edet Okon, did not respond when reached by phone Saturday night. He did not also respond to a WhatsApp message sent to him.