Militants kill 11 farmers in Nigeria’s north, raising fresh concerns about food supplies

MAIDUGURI, Nigeria (AP) — Islamic rebels killed 11 farmers and abducted several others in Nigeria’s northeast, locals and authorities said Monday, the latest of several such attacks that analysts say threaten food supplies in the hard-hit region.

The rebels attacked the farmers as they worked in their fields in Borno state’s Jere district Sunday evening before beheading them and shooting and wounding others as they escaped, according to Dauda Ibrahim, a resident in the area.

“About six of the farmers that were killed are from the same family,” said Dauda.

Borno police spokesman Daso Nahum confirmed the attack but could not further provide further details, saying the police chief in the state is in the area to assess the situation.

Such attacks on farmers have become rampant in Borno state where Islamic extremist rebels launched an insurgency in 2009 to fight against Western education and to establish Islamic Shariah law in the region.

The attacks have raised fears of worsening hunger in the troubled region where 4.4 million face acute hunger, according to the U.N. World Food Program.

At least 35,000 people have been killed and more than 2 million displaced due to the violence by the Boko Haram group and a breakaway faction backed by the Islamic State, according to U.N. agencies in Nigeria.

More than 100 farmers were killed in one attack in Jere in 2020 and dozens more have been killed since then, forcing many in agrarian communities to flee for safety. They have often complained of inadequate security presence and slow responses of security forces when the rebels attack them.

“These attacks on farms have significant implications for food security in the region,” said Bukar Babakura, a public affairs analyst in Borno. He said residents in Borno are “deeply concerned” about the long-term consequences of the attacks, especially for communities that rely on what they produce to sustain themselves.

David Steven, a Borno-based monitoring and evaluation consultant, said the attacks could cause more hardship in the impoverished region.

“Already, the frequency and intensity of these attacks now raise fears that they could become more widespread and even more violent," said Steven.