Dozens of Students Shot Dead in Their Beds as Islamist Militants Storm through College Dorms in Northern Nigeria
Francesca Infante, Daily Mail (London), September 29, 2013
Gunmen killed at least 40 people today in an attack on a college in northeast Nigeria, witnesses say, in a region where Islamist militants have targeted schools and universities.
Islamist sect Boko Haram has intensified attacks on civilian targets in recent weeks in reaction to a military offensive against its insurgency.
Boko Haram and spin-off Islamist groups like the al Qaeda-linked Ansaru have become the biggest security threat to the nation which is also Africa’s second largest economy and top oil exporter.
Gunmen stormed the College of Agriculture in Yobe state and shot students as they slept in the early hours of this morning, state police commissioner Sanusi Rufai said.
They also set fire to classrooms, a military spokesman in Yobe state, Lazarus Eli, told Agence France-Presse.
One witness counted 40 bodies at the main hospital in Yobe state capital Damaturu, and politicians claim that victims, most of whom were young men, were taken in van loads.
Boko Haram is fighting to overthrow Nigeria’s government to create an Islamic state, and has launched a number of attacks on schools including a raid which killed 27 students and a teacher at a school in Potiskum, a town about 30 miles from the site of today’s attack.
The group’s name translates as ‘Western education is forbidden’ and regard schools as a symbol of Western culture.
Across Nigeria thousands have been killed since Boko Haram launched its uprising against the state in 2009, turning itself from a clerical movement opposed to Western culture into an armed militia with growing links to al Qaeda’s West African wing.
In May Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in three northeastern states including Yobe, and ordered a military offensive aimed at crushing Boko Haram’s insurgency.
There was an initial lull in the violence as Islamists fled bases in cities, forests and mountains across the northeast.
Then the militants began revenge attacks on schools and then on the security forces and civilians believed to be helping them.
In June, Boko Haram carried out two attacks on schools in the region.
At least nine children were killed in a school on the outskirts of Maiduguri, while 13 students and teachers were killed in a school in Damaturu.
In July in the village of Mamudo in Yobe state, Islamist militants attacked a school’s dormitories with guns and explosives, killing at least 42 people, mostly students.
Boko Haram is led by Abubakar Shekau, in August reports surfaced that the Nigerian military had killed him in a shoot-out but a video released last week purportedly showed him alive.