By Erica Smith
Impunity Watch Reporter, Africa
LAGOS, Nigeria — At least 40 students were killed today when Boko Haram gunmen opened fired on their dormitory. All of the dead are believed to have been students in the College of Agriculture in Gujba, some 30 kilometres from Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state. Northeastern Nigeria has been under a state of emergency for several months following multiple attacks by the extremist group.
Initial reports indicate that most of the students were asleep when the dormitory was attacked and many died in their sleep. A local politician has told the BBC that two van loads of bodies were taken away from the scene. College provost Molima Idi Mato, speaking to Associated Press, said the number of dead could be as high as 50 and that about 1,000 students had fled the campus. The gunmen also set fire to classrooms.
Surviving students are looking for family and many people have shown up at the hospital looking for loved ones.
Academic activities only resumed last week in schools in Yobe state following 10 weeks of closure after an attack by members of Boko Haram on two secondary schools, which led to the death of 29 students and three teachers . Boko Haram, which roughly translates to “western education is forbidden”, has a penchant for attacking schools and students because they believe that schools are a symbol of Western culture and ought to be destroyed.
The military believes that the recent school attacks are a sign of desperation by the Islamists because the group only has the capacity to hit soft targets, like schools. The defence ministry has said that an offensive launched against Boko Haram in May has greatly weakened the group and scattered their fighters across the northeast. The fact that the group is still launching attacks, even if they are in remote places, casts some doubt on the military’s claims of success.
For further information, please see:
ABC News — At least 40 dead after Boko Haram militants open fire in college dorm in Nigeria — 29 September 2013
All Africa — Nigeria: Breaking – Boko Haram Gunmen Kill Many Yobe Agric College Students in Early Morning Attack — 29 September 2013
BBC News — Nigeria attack: Students shot dead as they slept — 29 September 2013
Daily Post — Several Students killed as Boko Haram attacks College of Agriculture in Yobe — 29 September 2013