By Paul Jongas, BosNewsLife Special Correspondent reporting from Nigeria
LAGOS, NIGERIA (BosNewsLife)– The government of Nigeria’s northeastern Yobe state said Sunday, July 7, it had closed down all secondary schools after suspected Islamist extremists killed dozens of Christian and Muslim students as well as teachers in a boarding school.
Officials said some 42 people, many of them youngsters, were killed in the gun and bomb attack by militants of Boko Haram, which translates as ‘Western Education is a Sin’.
The attack early Saturday, July 6, in the Mamudo district saw assailants round up students and staff in a dormitory of the Government Secondary School before throwing explosives inside and opening fire, said Haliru Aliyu of Potiskum General Hospital, quoting witnesses who escaped.
A teacher in the school, Ibrahim Abdu, told reporters that his colleague Mohammed Musa, an English language teacher, was among those who died after he was shot in the chest. Student Musa Hassan said his four fingers of his right hand were blown off when he tried to ward off a gunshot.
“When I woke up, someone was pointing a gun at me,” the 15-year-old told reporters.
It was the third school attack in the region in recent weeks and the deadliest since President Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states on May 14.
Boko Haram had earlier warned Christians to leave the region and urged Muslims to move in and join them in their battle to carve out a strict Islamic state in Nigeria.
The European Union condemned the Yobe school attack, calling it a “horrific murder by terrorists.”
It was not immediately clear what prompted the attack, but residents said they believe it was in revenge for the killing of Boko Haram members during a military raid in the town of Dogon Kuka earlier in the week.
Violence linked to the Boko Haram militants killed an estimated 3,600 people since 2009, including Christians.
Yet, killings have also been linked to government security forces who have come under criticism for alleged abuses.
Amid the violence the government said Yobe state governor Ibrahim Gaidam has “directed that all secondary schools in the state be closed down from Monday 8th July 2013 until a new academic session begins in September.”
Churches in especially northern states with large Muslim populations have urged President Jonathan to improve security around Christian sites, including schools and church buildings, amid rising Islamic extremism.
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).
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