A suicide bomber and suspected member of Boko Haram killed 47 students in Nigeria on Monday during a school assembly.
At 7:50am, over 1,0000 students between the ages of 15 and 20 were assembled at the Government Comprehensive Senior Science Secondary School for the principal’s daily address when the bomb went off.
“There was an explosion detonated by a suicide bomber. We have 47 dead and 79 injured,” national police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu said, adding that Boko Haram was believed to be responsible.
A morgue attendant said he counted 50 dead, many of them in blood-soaked uniforms.
All public schools in the Potiskum area were immediately closed on the order of Yobe state governor Ibrahim Gaidam.
The bomber, wearing a school uniform, shows that the Islamist insurgency is now recruiting young, radical, educated people. Not only was the bomber a member of Boko Haram, but he was registered as a student at the school.
A second teacher, asking to remain anonymous, said, “There are some (others) that are critically injured and I am sure the death toll will rise.”
Security forces could not get close to the explosion site because angry locals blocked the path to the school and nearby hospital, trying to prevent a repeat of last week when a bomb killed almost 30 people. Security forces had fired at the residents.
The explosion happened just one day after the newest Boko Haram video was released. The video features the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, rejecting the Nigerian government’s claims of peace talks and ceasefire.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is asking Nigerian authorities to bring the attackers to justice.
The UN chief “is outraged by the frequency and brutality of attacks against educational institutions in the north of the country”, his spokesman said.
This would not be the first attack on schools believed to be teaching a Western curriculum by Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sinful.” Gunmen killed at least 29 students, shooting them in their beds, at a government-run boarding school located in Buni Yadi, also in Yobe state, last February.
Last year in April, 42 students were killed in a gun and bomb attack on their dormitories at a government boarding school in Mamudo, near Potiskum.
Most famously, members of Boko Haram kidnapped 276 girls from the town of Chibok in Borno state last April. Six months later, the group is still holding 219 of the girls.
The group has held the belief that public schools are a ploy by colonial powers to remove Islam from the lives of Africans since the early 2000s.
So far, no group has claimed official responsibility for the attack.