The Islamic extremist group, Boko Haram, is suspected of raiding a school in northern Nigeria, leaving 29 children dead. Early this morning, gunmen from the group entered the school, setting the a dormitory on fire and slaying those who tried to flee.
“Some…[students’] bodies were burned to ashes,” said Sanusi Rufai, a Police Commissioner. The attack took place near the Nigerian city of Damaturu at the Federal Government College of Buni Yadi, a secondary school. The students killed were all male. The attackers reportedly let the girls live, telling them to “go home…get married and…abandon the Western education,” said Abdullahi Bego, a Nigeria spokesmen.
Boko Haram, a militant group fighting to create an Islamic state in Northern Nigeria, is becoming a serious threat to civilians. The group, whose name means “Western education is sinful,” attacks any civilians related to Western establishments or condoning Western behavior.
This morning’s attack is only one of many performed by the insurgent group. An attack on the Mamudo village last June killed 22 people. In June 2011, a car bomb explosion left 25 people dead and more than 100 injured near U.N. offices in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja. A groom and 29 wedding guests were killed in November 2013, while traveling on a road near a Boko Haram hideout.
Civilian attitude is turning sour toward the Nigerian government, whom they feel is not doing enough to ensure their safety. ‘The [affected] community complained…the military were withdrawn and then the attack happened,’’ Bego said. The disappearance of security personal from the school remains a mystery. The closest military base is located in Buni Gari town, nearly a mile and a half away.
Nigerian military aid arrived on the scene at noon, hours after the Boko Haram attack ended, but by then community members claimed to have buried 29 children between the ages of 15 and 20. However, some teachers who survived the attack believed the death toll was as high as 40 people. The nearly five year insurgency has outsmarted the offense by Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan many times.
President Jonathan, in a statement Monday, said he acknowledges the problem but defended his military action against Boko Haram. He noted that the Nigerian government is working with Cameroon to stop Boko Haram members from attacking inside the country and fleeing across the south-east border. A northern section of the border, known to house members of the group, has been closed.
Though not all in Nigeria are convinced of the president’s confidence. Governor Yashim Shettima flew to the capital, Abuja, last week to warn the Boko Haram are ‘‘better motivated and…armed” than the state offense. The president responded by proposing he retract all Nigerian militia from the Borno state where Shettima governs and see how long it would take for him to be ousted.
In addition, several members of the Nigerian military and one government official have been accused of passing state secrets to Boko Haram members. While the murder of 29 children is a tragedy, it is only the beginning of the Boko Hara in Nigeria.
By Erin P. Friar