Boko Haram fighters have killed at least 43 farmers in the Zamarmari area of Jere local government area of Borno state.
The farmers were killed at Kwashabe village, about 20 kilometers north of Maiduguri, Borno capital.
The assailants tied up the agricultural workers and slit their throats in the village of Kwashabe, Nasiru Usman, one of the farmers who escaped during the attack, told reporters.
Usman said trouble started after some farmers apprehended a Boko Haram insurgent who approached them with the request for food.
“Unknowingly, he was accompanied by dozens of other militants who were hiding inside the bush,” he said.
“So immediately they tied him and seized his gun, his other colleagues quickly stormed the scene, and opened fire on the farmers, while they took to their heels.
“At exactly 11 am, the group declared blanket killing against all the farmers harvesting their products. They began by abducting seven.
“So far, we have recovered up to 43 bodies. Our civilian JTF, police, and military are still searching for more bodies. We won’t know how many are missing so far for now since more bodies are still being found.”
Several bullet wounds were seen on the bodies of the deceased farmers, according to another source who helped in recovering the corpses and preparing them for burial.
The attack is one of the worst waged by the rival jihadist groups in the region since Boko Haram’s insurgency began in 2009.
Nigeria’s president, Muhammadu Buhari, said through a spokesman in a tweet: “I condemn the killing of our hardworking farmers by terrorists in Borno state. The entire country is hurt by these senseless killings. My thoughts are with their families in this time of grief. May their souls rest in peace.”
Nigerian government officials have long insisted that jihadists were “technically defeated” and reduced to sporadic attacks. Refugees across the north-east have been urged to return home to a region the government has said is now safe.
But beyond major cities and garrison towns where military presence is strong, significant parts of north-east Nigeria remain acutely vulnerable, with people effectively occupied and governed by roaming jihadists groups. Attacks in the north-east – particularly targeting farmers, security forces and aid workers – have increased in recent years.
Last month Boko Haram militants slaughtered 22 farmers working on their irrigation fields near Maiduguri in two separate attacks.
Boko Haram and ISWAP, its IS-linked rival, have increasingly targeted loggers, herders and fishermen in their violent campaign, accusing them of spying and passing information to the military and the local militia fighting them.
At least 36,000 people have been killed in the conflict, which has displaced about two million since 2009.
The violence has also spread into neighboring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the militants.
The attack took place as voters went to the polls in local elections in Borno State. The elections had been repeatedly postponed because of an increase in attacks by Boko Haram and ISWAP.
African publication HumAngle reported that the people of the village are refusing to bury the bodies of the 43 victims until the state governor has witnessed the atrocity.