Nigerian Islamist group Boko Haram’s gunmen killed 59 students in their sleep in an attack on a boarding school in northeast Nigeria on Tuesday, news reports said.
The attack was made on Buni Yadi, a college run by the federal government near Damaturu, which is the capital city of Yobe state. Reports also suggested that the gunmen had targeted only male students and spared females. Boko Haram, whose name means “western education is sinful,” has been primarily attacking schools in opposition of western education. Reports had earlier stated the casualty count to be 29, which was later updated to 59 male students.
"Fresh bodies have been brought in. More bodies were discovered in the bush after the students who had escaped with bullet wounds died from their injuries," Bala Ajiya, an official at the Specialist Hospital Damaturu, told Reuters.
The state's police chief, Sanusi Rufai, who confirmed the attack Tuesday, left for Buni Yadi with Governor Ibrahim Geidam to assess the damage, according to Agence France-Presse. Rufai also stated that 24 buildings of the school were burned to the ground in the attack by Boko Haram.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly called the attack a “callous and senseless murder ... by deranged terrorists and fanatics who have clearly lost all human morality and descended to bestiality,” according to Reuters. Last May, Jonathan had declared a state of emergency in three northeastern states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa, and has reportedly equipped the country's security forces with special powers to fight Boko Haram.
But Borno’s state senator, Ali Ndume, told BBC that the emergency was not effective. Ndume also added that the government would allocate $2 million to rebuild areas affected by the Islamist group's attacks.
In 2014 alone, the group has reportedly killed nearly 300 people, with two attacks last week killing at least 100 people in each of their attacks. Last June, the group left 22 students dead in an attack in nearby Mamudo, Reuters reported. According to AFP, since the emergency was declared, more than 1,000 people have been killed despite security forces deployed to hunt down Boko Haram members.
On Sunday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had expressed concerns regarding previous attacks by the group.
"Unspeakable violence and acts of terror like the ones committed by Boko Haram last week in northern Nigeria are horrific, wrong and have no place in our world," Kerry reportedly said in a statement.
"The people of northern Nigeria deserve to live free from violence and from terror. That's why the United States is providing counterterrorism assistance to help Nigerian authorities develop a comprehensive approach to combat the threat posed by Boko Haram while protecting civilians and ensuring respect for human rights,” Kerry said.