A resurgence of attacks by ISWAP terrorists on local farmers in the Gwoza area of Borno, Northeast Nigeria, has resulted in the death of ten farmers over the last ten days, sources said.
The latest attack occurred late Tuesday afternoon, deepening the grief of an already mourning community.
Ahmed Jaha, who represents the area in the Federal House of Representatives, confirmed the incidents.
“I was in Gwoza to commiserate with the bereaved families when the latest attack was reported. It was heartbreaking,” Jaha said.
“The attacks started on the 9th of September, and they kept occurring geometrically every other day till Tuesday. So far, ten of my constituents, mostly young farmers, have been beheaded by these criminal elements called Boko Haram or ISWAP.”
Jaha believes the motive behind the attacks is to intimidate farmers from their farms as the harvest season approaches.
“We experienced this calamity in the past years when similar attacks occurred and the farmlands were deserted, left at the mercy of the insurgents who had a field day harvesting what the poor farmers toiled to grow,” he said.
Audu Suleiman, a resident of Gwoza, expressed fears that the attacks may escalate due to the forthcoming harvest.
“Already, the farmers have started harvesting maize and groundnuts, which the insurgents want to take over,” he said. “They would identify vulnerable locations where there is no security presence and attack the farmers.”
Sources familiar with the incident said the first attack last week resulted in the death of six young farmers at a single location. Subsequent attacks claimed two more lives each. The two latest victims were buried on Wednesday, Sept. 20, amidst growing fears.
“We have just buried them today,” said Isa Gava, another resident of Gwoza. “But our fear is how safe we are going forward. We have more harvest to do and our people have trusted the presumed improved security to venture far into the bush to cultivate lands for their family, and these deep areas are not covered by the security arrangement provided by the soldiers and the CJTF operative. We need improved security in these areas to save lives.”
The recent surge in attacks underscores the ongoing threat posed by ISWAP in the region, despite ongoing efforts by the Nigerian government and international partners to curb the group’s activities.
Deputy Governor of Borno state, Umar Kadafur, also weighed in on the issue during an event organised to distribute farm tools to displaced farmers.
“Our hearts are with the people of Gwoza who have lost their farmers to these brutal attacks in recent days,” Kadafur said.
“We strongly condemn these acts of violence and call on the security forces to improve protection and escort services for farmers while they are working in the fields.”
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