Boko Haram gunmen killed 48 fish vendors in Nigeria’s restive Borno State, near the border with Chad, the head of the fish traders association said on Sunday
“Scores of Boko Haram fighters blocked a route linking Nigeria with Chad near the fishing village of Doron Baga on the shores of Lake Chad on Thursday and killed a group of 48 fish traders on their way to Chad to buy fish,” Abubakar Gamandi said.
He said the insurgents set up a barricade at Dogon Fili, 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Doron Baga, and stopped a convoy of fish vendors around midday, slaughtering some of them and drowning others in the lake.
“The Boko Haram gunmen slit the throats of some of the men and tied the hands and legs of the others before throwing them into the lake to drown,” Gamandi told AFP by telephone from Maiduguri, the Borno state capital.
Doron Baga, 180 kilometres from Maiduguri, is the base of the Multi-National Joint Task Force (MNJTF), comprising troops from Nigeria, Chad and Niger fighting the Islamist group.
The MNJTF was formed in 1998 to fight trans-border crime but its mandate was expanded to tame the Boko Haram insurgency in the volatile region.
Gamandi claimed the assailants killed all of their victims without using their guns.
“The attackers killed their victims silently without the use of the gun to avoid attracting attention from the multi-national troops,” Gamandi said.
A military officer in Maiduguri confirmed the attack but said details were sketchy.
“We heard of the attack near Doron Baga but we don’t have any details because the area falls under the operational jurisdiction of the MNJTF,” the military officer said.
News of the attack was slow to emerge due to the destruction of mobile phone towers in the area by Boko Haram in previous attacks.
Incessant Boko Haram attacks have disrupted fishing and farming along the shore of Lake Chad and fishermen from Doron Baga were forced to abandon fishing and turned to importing dried fish from neighbouring Chad.
Last December at least seven fishermen were killed when Boko Haram Islamists attacked Doron Baga in a nocturnal raid that left many homes burnt.
In August, the Islamists raided Dogon Baga and kidnapped 97 people after killing 28 villagers.
The hostages, including women and children, were loaded on speed boats and ferried across the Lake into Chad.
Chadian troops rescued 85 of the hostages when they intercepted a convoy of buses transporting them from the shores.
The Boko Haram violence has claimed thousands of lives since 2009 with the aim of creating a hardline Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north.