Islamic extremists killed eight farmers and abducted 10 in an attack in northeastern Nigeria, officials said Friday — the latest in a volatile region that is a key part of the country’s breadbasket and where militants have threatened food supplies.
The farmers were ambushed in the bush in the Borno state’s Mafa district on Thursday. The attackers slit their throats, authorities said.
Babagana Zulum, the state governor, said the attack was an attempt to “sabotage the successes of the government” as it struggles to have those displaced in Borno return to their villages and rebuild their lives.
He said the security forces need to rise to the challenge but also urged local residents to take individual precautions.
“We must rise to our responsibility and address the situation,” Zulum said. “I’ve told the people to be resilient, and they should be security-conscious and avoid remote locations.”
Islamic extremist rebels launched an insurgency in Borno in 2009 in an effort to establish their radical interpretation of Islamic law, or Sharia, in the region. At least 35,000 people have been killed and more than 2 million displaced due to the violence by the militant Boko Haram group and a breakaway faction backed by the Islamic State group.
Borno’s farming communities have been frequently targeted in recent months, raising fears of extreme hunger as U.N. agencies continue to warn of famine.
On Friday, local villagers are mourning the slain farmers while also decrying inadequate security measures in remote and volatile areas.
Modu Ibrahim, a local resident, said there were no security forces where the farmers’ bodies were found. The extremists spared one teenager whom they asked to “deliver the message” about the attack to other villagers, Ibrahim said.
The Islamic insurgency in the northeast has also overstretched Nigeria’s security forces as they continue to battle other crises across the country, including continuing clashes between nomadic cattle herders and farming communities in northwest and central regions of the West African nation.