Forty-three rice farmers were buried in Borno State on Sunday.
The farmers were residents of Zabarmari, a rice-farming community in Jere Local Government Area.
They were, according to official sources, attacked by suspected Boko Haram terrorists at Koshebe village, a place in Mafa Local Government Area, on Saturday.
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An unammed resident who spoke at the burial told Governor Babagana Zulum that the exact number of those killed was yet to be ascertained, raising fears that the death toll could rise.
“As you have seen here,” the unnamed person said, “43 corpses were buried, but others have not been retrieved from the scene of the incident.”
“Nobody can tell you the exact number of people killed. Some of the victims are still missing.”
The governor then addressed the grieving community.
“First of all, accept my deepest sympathy over this carnage, once again, that affects all of us and every human with conscience,” Zulum said.
“I am told some persons are still missing. We have been discussing with the military since yesterday, Insha Allah the remaining people will be traced soon.”
Zulum later told journalists that “it is disheartening that more than 40 citizens were slaughtered while they were working in their farmlands.
In pictures: Massacred rice farmers buried in Nigeria
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“Our people are in very difficult situations. They are in two different extreme conditions. On one side they stay at home, they may be killed by hunger and starvation. On the other, they go out to their farmlands and risk getting killed by the insurgents.
“This is very sad.
“We are still appealing to the Federal Government to ensure recruitment of more our youths in the Civilian-JTF and hunters into the Nigerian military and the Civil Defence so that they can form part of the agro rangers that will protect farmers.
“We need many boots to protect farmlands and our youths understand the terrain.
‘We will not lose hope because we have to remain optimistic about ending the insurgency,” Zulum said.
President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the mass killing as “insane” and stated that he had given the military all the tools needed to arrest the spate of insecurity in the country.