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Soldier and three passengers killed and an unknown number of people missing in ambush in Gwoza

25 September 2023
Reading time: 4 minutes

Farmers terrified of going to harvest their produce because of almost daily deadly attacks by insurgents.

One soldier and three civilian passengers were killed when insurgents ambushed a convoy of motorists – and the security vehicles escorting them – on the Gwoza-Limankara-Uvaha road on Saturday, September 23.

The insurgents also burnt five commercial vehicles and a security patrol van. It was not yet known how many passengers were burnt or if some had managed to run away or had been abducted.

Five women passengers who were known to have been abducted were released on Saturday night.

The insurgents were thought to be members of the Jamā’at Ahl as-Sunnah lid-Da’way Wa’l-Jihād (JAS), better known as Boko Haram.
A security operative, who asked to remain anonymous, said the incident occurred at about 5pm.

Soldiers and members of the civilian joint task force were escorting passengers travelling to Gwoza, the Askira-Uba Local Government Area of Borno State and to the northern parts of Adamawa State.

Mohammed Ali Ndume, who represents the Borno South senatorial district, confirmed the attack.

He told journalists that killings were “rampant” in Gwoza. He said the military needed to “take the fight to the enclave of the insurgents”.
He said he had been informed about the ambush and all the other attacks by insurgents.

He confirmed that when the rainy season set in, the number of attacks on farmers had escalated at an “alarming” rate. He said the military had been trying to do its best to eliminate “remnants of Boko Haram in the northeast”.

But, he said, considering the renewed killings, more had to be done.

The number of farmer killings, particularly, had soared in September. Six farmers were murdered and two abducted by insurgents on Saturday, September 9; two more were killed on Saturday, September 16.

Residents reported that two farmers who were harvesting groundnuts on their lands were killed on Thursday, September 21.

They told RNI that they were terrified and many farmers were no longer going to their lands to harvest their produce because of the many attacks and killings in the district.

Musa Mohammed, a resident of Gwoza town, said: “Many farmers escaped the attack on Thursday by fleeing from their lands when they heard sporadic shooting in the nearby forest. Unfortunately, the two men harvesting their groundnuts could not escape. Right now, the residents of Gwoza town are too afraid to go to their lands because of all the recent killings. Farmers living in the mountainous areas are most at risk.”

Mohammed called on the federal and Borno State governments to come to their aid.

“Farmers need more security so that we can harvest our produce peacefully without fearing we will be killed or abducted. Our crops are ready for harvesting and we are too afraid to go to our lands. It’s an awful predicament.”

Usman Ahmed Jaha, a federal legislator representing the Gwoza, Damboa and Chibok constituencies in the Nigerian National Assembly, condemned the killings of 10 farmers in 10 days in Gwoza.

Speaking in Gwoza town on Thursday, September 21, while distributing farming equipment to the locals, he said it was extremely disturbing that farmers were being killed daily. He believed the insurgents were committing these atrocities to stop the farmers from going to harvest their produce.

“Our farmers laboured for three to four months to clear the fields and cultivate their lands without such incidents. But, suddenly, now when they are preparing to harvest their produce and bring it home, the killings have escalated.”

Jaha said the insurgents were targeting farmers and “that is extremely worrying because that is how 90% of Gwoza town’s people make a living”.
However, he said as hard as it was, he encouraged the farmers to be brave and to “defy all odds and continue their farming activities”.

Earlier this month, Alhaji Mohammed Shehu Timta, the Emir of Gwoza, described the persistent attacks of farmers as extremely distressing. He said farmers were being slaughtered.

Residents were so concerned about the escalating violence that they gathered at the palace to show empathy and to sympathise with the Emir and the families of those who were killed and abducted.

They called on the Emir to urge the government to beef up security in the town to protect their lives and property.


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