Militants kill Nigerian students
Published 25/02/2014 | 12:27
Islamic militants have killed 29 students in a pre-dawn attack on a northeast Nigerian school.
The attackers set fire to a locked dormitory, shooting and slitting the throats of those who escaped through windows, survivors said. Some were burned alive.
Soldiers guarding a checkpoint near the government school were withdrawn hours before the attack, said the spokesman for the governor of Yobe state.
The attackers went to the female dormitories and told the young women to go home, get married and abandon the Western education they said is anathema to Islam, survivors told governor Ibrahim Gaidam while he visited the Federal Government College at Buni Yadi, 45 miles south of the state capital, Damaturu.
The militants locked the door of one dormitory where male students were sleeping and then set it alight, slitting the throats of those who tried to climb out of windows and gunning down those who ran away, said teacher Adamu Garba.
Some students were burned alive in the attack that began around 2am, he said.
Spokesman Abdullahi Bego said the entire complex of the relatively new school had been burned out by firebombs - six dormitories, the administrative building, staff quarters, classrooms, a clinic and the kitchen.
The governor would be asking questions about why the school apparently was left unprotected, he said.
"The community complained to the governor that yesterday the military were withdrawn and then the attack happened," he said.
Soldiers from Damaturu did not arrive until noon, hours after the attackers had finished their work and taken off, according to community leaders who said they buried the bodies of 29 victims. Most appeared to be between 15 and 20 years old, Bego said.
Military spokesman Eli Lazarus had confirmed the attack but said he could not give an exact death toll because soldiers still were gathering corpses.
Nigeria's military has reported arresting several soldiers accused of aiding and passing information to extremists of the terrorist network of Boko Haram - the nickname means "Western education is forbidden". A senator has also been accused of similar charges.
President Goodluck Jonathan dismissed claims the military is losing the war to halt the four-year-old Islamic uprising in the north east of Africa's biggest oil producer.
He suggested he could withdraw the military from Borno state and see how long its governor, Yashim Shettima, could remain in his official residence. Shettima had flown to Abuja, the capital, last week to tell Jonathan that Boko Haram are "better motivated and better armed".
Jonathan said the Boko Haram attacks are "quite worrisome" but that he is sure "we will get over it".
US secretary of state John Kerry condemned the "unspeakable violence and acts of terror" and said the United States is helping Nigerian authorities "to combat the threat posed by Boko Haram while protecting civilians and ensuring respect for human rights".
But survivors and local officials claim they get no protection.
"Everybody is living in fear," local government chairman Maina Ularamu said after Izghe village was attacked twice in a week this month - with militants killing 109 people and burning hundreds of thatched huts in neighbouring Adamawa state.
"There is no protection. We cannot predict where and when they are going to attack. People can't sleep with their eyes closed," Ularamu said.