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Nigeria Suicide Bombing Kills at Least 48 Schoolchildren

The suspected Boko Haram attack hit a morning assembly at a school in the country's north-east, where the militants are battling to set up an Islamic caliphate.

by Sally Hayden
Nov 10 2014, 1:05pm

Image via Reuters

At least 48 students have been killed in a suicide bombing that hit a school assembly in Nigeria's north-east, where Boko Haram militants are battling to carve out an Islamic caliphate. 

"The students had gathered for the morning assembly when something exploded in their midst with a thunderous sound at exactly 7:50 am," a teacher told AFP of the attack in the town of Potiskum. "The explosion has affected many students but I can't say how many because we are now evacuating the victims to the hospital which is just 100 meters away." 

"We have so far taken 13 bodies to the hospital and over 30 with various degrees of injuries," a rescue worker was quoted as saying.

The bomber reportedly entered the Government Technical Science College, in Yobe State, dressed in a school uniform with a bomb hidden in his rucksack. 

The bodies of the dead and the injured are being taken to Potiskum General Hospital.

A Potiskum resident named Abdul told VICE News: "I was about to go out for work when I heard a huge explosion. I hurriedly went back to my house. A friend called and informed me of the sad news... I saw many students with their white clothes stained with blood, and they looked terrified."

'No one knows what Nigeria's government is doing to rescue our kidnapped schoolgirls'. Read more here.

North-eastern Nigeria is reaffirming its position as one of the most dangerous places in the world to attend school. Boko Haram, a militant group whose title loosely translates as "Western Education is Forbidden," have repeatedly attacked schools in the region, either killing or kidnapping their students, and are thought likely to be behind Monday's bombing.  

The same group was behind the abduction of 276 girls from Chibok, Borno State last April. 

The violence hasn't only focused on schools. Last week a suicide bomber killed at least 23 in the same town, as they participated in a procession to mark the ceremony of AshuraCleric Malam Mustapha Lawan Nasidi said that those who died were mostly children. Nasidi also claimed that Nigerian soldiers had increased the death toll by firing indiscriminately in retaliation. 

Human Rights Watch estimates that 4,000 civilians have been killed in 192 attacks since May 2013, all in northeastern Nigeria. In a report titled "Those Terrible Weeks in Their Camp," they interviewed 30 individuals who had survived, and managed to escape from the group. Those released spoke of rape and sexual abuse, physical abuse, forced marriages, and being forced to participate in military operations.

Boko Haram Leader Appears Alive in Video — But Nigeria Still Says He's Dead. Read more here.

Last month the Nigerian government announced that they had brokered a ceasefire with Boko Haram, but no evidence of this was forthcoming. Killings and kidnappings have continued since.

Abubakar Shekau, the group's elusive leader, released a video where he denied the ceasefire was ever in consideration, and saying all the girls they had kidnapped had been "long forgotten because I have long ago married them off."

Boko Haram Leader Claims He 'Married Off' All Kidnapped Nigerian Schoolgirls. Read more here.

The lack of action by President Goodluck Jonathan, and the Nigerian government, has led to a rise in vigilantism, fuelled by local frustration at the lack of any effective military response.

Boko Haram has taken control of at least two dozen cities in recent months, as part of their goal to establish a caliphate.

Life with Boko Haram: The escapees speak out. Read more here.

Follow Sally Hayden on Twitter: @sallyhayd