Boko Haram jihadists killed eight people in a series of raids on farming communities in northeast Nigeria, civilian militia members and local residents told AFP on Friday.
The attacks were carried out by gunmen travelling in pick-up trucks and on motorcycles outside the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, on Wednesday and Thursday. Homes were razed, and food and livestock seized in an apparent reprisal attack against young men joining the civilian militia, which helps the military with security.
“They killed eight farmers in the raids and burnt three villages which forced farmers to abandon their farms,” said one militia leader, Ibrahim Liman. Some 17 Islamist fighters stormed Mallan village at about 8:00 am (0700 GMT) on Thursday, killing two farmers.
Three people were shot dead in the same village on Wednesday night, said resident Jidda Kori, who fled to Maiduguri. “They mainly targeted young men in the attacks because they believe every young man is a member of the civilian vigilante” he added.
“They burnt down the entire village and took away our food, livestock and 13 bicycles.” Kesa Kura village, which is near Mallan, was also attacked on Wednesday night, killing three people, said resident Mohammed Ahmed. Another village, Manjita, was razed but residents managed to flee after they were alerted by people fleeing Mallan, he added.
The eight-year Boko Haram conflict has forced farmers and their families to flee their homes and fields, leading to a shortage of food and exacerbating a humanitarian crisis. Many were living in camps for the displaced in and around Maiduguri but had moved back to their homes because of apparent successes in the counter-insurgency.
A cash funding shortfall for feeding programmes has also forced people to leave the camps to try to resume farming in liberated areas after three missed seasons. At least 20,000 people have been killed and more than 2.6 million others made homeless by the violence, which began in 2009. The latest attacks come despite the repeated insistence of Nigeria‘s government and military that Boko Haram is a spent force.
On Monday, four people were killed in a drive-by shooting on a group of farmers working on their fields in Ngawo Fato Bulabulin village outside Maiduguri.
Last week a farmer was shot dead and four others were abducted by the jihadists as they worked on their farms near the town of Konduga, 38 kilometres (24 miles) from Maiduguri.