However, UN official says at least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others wounded in the attack
Villagers in northeast Nigeria's Borno state yesterday buried 43 farmers killed in an attack by suspected Islamist militants while security forces searched for dozens of people who are still missing.
Roughly 30 of the men killed were also beheaded in the attack, which began on Saturday morning in Zabarmari village in northeast Borno state. Residents said a total of 70 people are feared dead.
While no group claimed responsibility, such massacres have been carried out in the past by Boko Haram or the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP). They are both active in the region, where Islamic militants have killed at least 30,000 people in the past decade.
President Muhammadu Buhari condemned the killings and said "the entire country is hurt."
In Zabarmari, dozens of mourners surrounded the bodies, which were wrapped in white burial shrouds and placed on wooden pallets, as clerics led prayers for the deceased.
One resident and Amnesty International said 10 women were among those missing.
Borno state governor Babagana Zulum, speaking at the burials, called on the federal government to recruit more soldiers, Civilian Joint Task Force members and civil defence fighters to protect farmers in the region.
He described desperate choices facing people.
"In 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," he said.
However, Edward Kallon, the UN humanitarian coordinator in the country, said yesterday in a statement, "At least 110 civilians were ruthlessly killed and many others were wounded in this attack."
"The incident is the most violent direct attack against innocent civilians this year," Kallon said, blaming "non-state armed groups" without naming Boko Haram.
Food prices in Nigeria have risen dramatically over the past year, driven by flooding, border closures and insecurity in some food-producing areas.
Last month Boko Haram militants slaughtered 22 farmers working on their irrigation fields near Maiduguri in two separate incidents.
Boko Haram and ISWAP, its IS-linked rival, have increasingly targeted loggers, herders and fishermen in their violent campaign, accusing them of spying and passing information to the military and the local militia fighting them.
The violence has also spread into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the militants.