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."
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 Ashura. Cleric 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.
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."
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.
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