(Adds details, background, military)
DAMATURU, Nigeria Feb 25 (Reuters) – Gunmen from Islamist
group Boko Haram stormed a boarding school in northeast Nigeria
overnight and killed 29 pupils, many of whom died in flames as
the school was burned to the ground, police and the military
said on Tuesday.
“Some of the students bodies were burned to ashes,” Police
Commissioner Sanusi Rufai said of the attack on the Federal
Government college of Buni Yadi, a secondary school in Yobe
state, near the state’s capital city of Damaturu.
All those killed were boys. No girls were touched, Rufai
The Islamists, whose struggle for an Islamic state in
northern Nigeria has killed thousands and made them the biggest
threat to security in Africa’s top oil producer, increasingly
are preying on the civilian population.
Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sinful”
in the northern Hausa language, have frequently attacked schools
in the past. A similar attack in June in the village of Mamudo
left 22 students dead.
More than 200 people were killed in two attacks last week,
one in which militants razed a whole village and shot panicked
residents as they tried to flee.
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.
A military spokesman for Yobe state, Captain Lazarus Eli,
confirmed the attack and said “Our men are down there in pursuit
of the killers.”
Addressing a news conference on Monday, Jonathan defended
the military’s record, saying it had had some successes against
Boko Haram. He also said Nigeria was working with the Cameroon
authorities to try to prevent the militants from mounting
attacks in Nigeria and then fleeing over the border.
The military shut the northern part of the border with
Cameroon on the weekend. The insurgents mostly occupy the
remote, hilly Gwoza area bordering Cameroon, from where they
attack civilians they accuse of being pro-government. They have
also started abducting scores of girls, a new tactic reminiscent
of Uganda’s cult-like Lord’s Resistance Army in decades past.
(Reporting by Joe Hemba; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Larry