Militant gunmen attack Nigerian school and kill dozens of students

The secondary school in Mamudo was attacked last year Picture: Juju Films

A school in Nigeria has been attacked by gunmen and dozens of students have been killed.

The attackers stormed the boarding school at night and burned it to the ground, said the Reuters news agency.

They are suspected to be from the militant Islamist group Boko Haram – whose name means “Western education is sinful”.

Initial reports put the death toll at 29 – but sources later said 43 had died. Other reports claimed it could be as high as 59.

All of the dead were boys, some of whom are believed to have died in the fire. No girls at the Federal Government College of Buni Yadi were harmed in the attack, according to Police Commissioner Sanusi Rufai on February 25.

He said: “Some of the students’ bodies were burned to ashes.”

Al Jazeera reported that the students were fired upon as they slept in a dormitory.

The secondary school is in Yobe state, near the state’s capital city of Damaturu. A military spokesman for Yobe state, Captain Lazarus Eli, confirmed the attack and said: “Our men are down there in pursuit of the killers.”

Boko Haram has targeted schools  before. A similar attack in June in the village of Mamudo left 22 students dead.

Map showing the Yobe region. Source: Nigerian website

Gordon Brown, the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, said: “The world will not accept this continued escalation of violence against the right of children to education and will fight it.

“In May there will be a summit in Abuja bringing together funders from all over the world who will pledge additional support to Nigeria’s plan to get 10million children to school. But they will expect the Nigerian government and the states to do more to prevent violence and to ensure resources are available.”

More than 10million children in Nigeria do not go to school and the country has the highest out-of-school population in the world. Children have increasingly become targets for violence – simply for wanting to go to school and learn.

Boko Haram also carried out  two attacks last week, in which more than 200 people were killed. Militants burned a village to the ground and shot people as they fled for their lives.

Reuters said the failure of the military to protect civilians is fuelling anger in the northeast, the region worst affected by the four- and-a-half-year-old insurgency.

An offensive ordered by President Goodluck Jonathan in May has failed to crush the rebels and triggered reprisals against civilians.

Boko Haram wants an Islamic state in northern Nigeria. Its struggle has killed thousands and made the group the biggest threat to security in Africa’s top oil-producing nation.

You can find out more here about the challenges facing children in Nigeria.

And you can sign our A World at School petition to President  Jonathan, calling on him to provide education for all the children of his country.