At least 29 students and one teacher have been killed in an attack at a boarding school in northeastern Nigeria. Reports say the attack took place in the predawn hours on Saturday. Eyewitnesses have told reporters some of the students were set on fire while still alive at the school in Marmudo town of Yobe state.
According to reports, anguished parents screamed as they tried to identify the charred remains of their children. Some of the children were shot to death.
Malam Abdullahi, a farmer, identified the bodies of two of his sons. Both of his sons were killed by gunfire. His 10-year-old had a gunshot wound in the back as he apparently tried to run away, and his 12-year-old was shot in the chest.
“That’s it, I’m taking my other boys out of school,” he told reporters as he wept over the corpses of his sons. He said he had three younger children in another school.
“It’s not safe,” he said. “The gunmen are attacking schools and there is no protection for students despite all the soldiers.”
According to survivors of the attack who were taken to a local hospital, the assault on the government school happened around 3 a.m. Saturday.
“We were sleeping when we heard gunshots. When I woke up, someone was pointing a gun at me,” Musa Hassan, a 15-year-old student said.
He said he raised his arm to protect himself. The gunshot fired at him blew off four fingers on his right hand.
He said the gunmen poured fuel and torched the administrative block of the school and one of the hostels.
“They burned the children alive,” he said.
According to reports, some of the children ran away in the bushes and have not been seen since. To add to the anguish, some of the bodies are impossible to identify because they have been burned so badly. Parents do not know if their children survived the attack and ran way in the bushes.
Reports say, the attackers are believed to be from the Boko Haram sect. Boko Haram means “Western education is sacrilege.”
The group has caused havoc Nigeria through a wave of bombings and other attacks. According to reports, its mission is to fight to overthrow the government.
More than 600 people were believed to have been killed in 2012 by the insurgent group. Reports say several schools have been burned in attacks by insurgents in the country’s northeast since 2010.
The Nigerian government in May launched a massive crackdown on the group. It used fighter jets and helicopter gunships to defeat Boko Haram. But reports say this clampdown has only succeeded in driving the extremist group to hide into rocky mountain areas from where they emerge to hurl their attacks.
According to reports, the militant group has targeted teachers, students, health workers on vaccination campaigns, and government workers.
The group has also driven farmers their lands.
By Perviz Walji