Boko Haram militants have killed at least 43 farm workers and wounded six others as they worked in rice fields near the northeast Nigerian city of Maiduguri.
The assailants tied up the agricultural workers and slit their throats in the village of Koshobe, an anti-Boko Haram militia told AFP news agency on Saturday.
“We have recovered 43 dead bodies, all of them slaughtered, along with six others with serious injuries,” said militia leader Babakura Kolo, who helped the survivors.
“It is no doubt the handiwork of Boko Haram who operate in the area and frequently attack farmers.”
The military and police did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
A search by the authorities for the attackers has been mounted.
Eight labourers missing
The victims were labourers from Sokoto state in northwest Nigeria, roughly 1,000 kilometres away, who had travelled to the northeast to find work, said another militiaman Ibrahim Liman who gave the same toll.
“There were 60 farmers who were contracted to harvest paddy in the rice fields. Forty-three were slaughtered, with six injured,” Liman said.
Eight others were missing, presumed to have been kidnapped by the militants, he said.
The bodies were taken to Zabarmari village, two kilometres away, where they would be kept ahead of burial on Sunday, said resident Mala Bunu who took part in the search and rescue operation.
Food prices in Nigeria have risen substantially this year, in part due to insecurity in food-producing areas, according to politicians. Flooding in northwest Nigeria earlier this year also destroyed thousands of hectares of rice paddy.