Schools in Nigeria’s Yobe state have become such ripe targets for attack by local Islamist militants that the governor of the northeastern region has ordered them closed. The order came after an attack on a boarding school outside Potiskum claimed the lives of at least 29 students and one teacher and injured dozens of others.
The militants set fire to the school dormitory, and witnesses claimed that some of the victims were burned alive because they were unable to get out. Those who tried to escape were shot by the attackers.
According to the Associated Press, the situation at the four hospitals nearby was chaotic as doctors struggled to help the injured and parents of the school’s students flocked to the makeshift morgues to identify bodies of their children.
The group Boko Haram has claimed responsibility for the attack, as it has for a number of other strikes against schools in and around Yobe.
Last month Islamic fighters attacked at least two schools, killing 16 students and two teachers.
Gaidam said such attacks could be averted if the military would resume cell phone service cut to three northeastern states since the government declared a state of emergency May 14. He said residents could have alerted the military by cell phone.
On May 14th, in response to increased Islamist terrorist activities, Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in Yobe and a number of other provinces. Thousand of government troops poured into the area to tamp down what has now being called a full Islamist insurgency.
The military has claimed success in regaining control of the area — the states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe . However, the area covers some 155,000 square kilometers (60,000 square miles) or one-sixth of the sprawling country.
Soldiers say they have killed and arrested hundreds of fighters.
But the crackdown, including attacks with fighter jets and helicopter gunships on militant camps, appears to have driven the extremists into rocky mountains with caves, from which they emerge to attack schools and markets.
The militants have increasingly targeted civilians, including health workers on vaccination campaigns, teachers and government workers.
Farmer Mama Abdullahi expressed the anguish of many families as he wept over the bodies of two of his sons. The boys, aged 10 and 12, who were students at the Government Secondary School in Mamudo village outside Potiskum, were fatally short when trying to flee from attackers.
Abdullahi said that he was planning to take his three younger children out of school because he felt it was becoming too dangerous for them in the area.