By Michael Olugbode
United Nations (UN) has revealed that not less than 110 civilians were killed by Boko Haram in the attack on a rice field in Borno State.
Earlier reports had put the death toll of Saturday’s deadly Boko Haram attack on rice field in Borno at 43 while several others were said to be missing.
A statement by the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Nigeria, Mr. Edward Kallon, on Sunday, while describing the attack as horrifying, said not less than 110 people were killed with many other persons injured in one the deadliest attack by the terrorist group, who have laid siege to the Northeast for over a decade.
Kallon said: “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.”
He disclosed that: “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.”
Kallon, while condoling the government and people of Nigeria, said: “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.”
Kallon also lamented that several women may have been kidnapped in the attack.
He said: “We have also received reports that several women may have been kidnapped. I call for their immediate release and return to safety.”
He added that: “My thoughts are also with the rural communities in the area, who are shocked by the brutality of yesterday’s (Saturday’s) attack and fear for their safety.”
He said: “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 they are facing, and which we are striving to alleviate.”
He said: “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.”
He lamented that: “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.”
He said: “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.”
The statement said: “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.”
It noted that: “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.”