KANO (AFP) – The death toll from a school massacre in Yobe by suspected Boko Haram Islamists on Tuesday has risen to 43, a hospital source in the troubled northeastern Yobe state said.
“Ambulances have been bringing in bodies from Federal Government College in (the town of Buni Yadi,” a senior medical source at the Sani Abacha Specialist Hospital in Yobe’s capital Damaturu told AFP. “So far 43 bodies have been brought and are lying at the morgue,” he said, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to discuss death tolls.
Yobe’s police chief Sanusi Rufai told AFP that 29 people were killed but it was not immediately clear if all of the dead were students.
Rufai said he was en route to Buni Yadi with Yobe’s covernor Ibrahim Geidam to assess the extent of the damage.
Yobe is one of three northeastern states which was placed under emergency rule in May last year when the military launced a massive operation to crush the Boko Haram uprising.
At least 40 students were killed in September at an agriculture training college in Yobe after Boko Haram gunmen stormed a series of dorms in the middle of the night and sprayed gunfire on sleeping students.
More than 1,000 people have been killed in the northeast since the emergency measures were imposed, despite the enhanced military presence.
Boko Haram, declared a terrorist organisation by Nigeria and the United States, has said it is fighting to create an Islamic state in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north.
Geidam and the governor of neighbouring Borno state, Kashim Shettima, have fiercely criticised the military’s record in combatting Boko Haram, insisting that more resources were needed to defeat the emboldened and increasingly well-armed insurgents.
In a video sent to AFP last week, Boko Haram’s purported leader, Abubakar Shekau, said he would continue his relentless campaign of violence on anyone who supports democracy or so-called Western values.
Shekau, declared a global terrorist by the United States, also threated to widen the insurgency outside the group’s northeastern stronghold with attacks in the oil-producing, southern Niger Delta region.
Nigeria is Africa’s top oil producer and an Islamist attack in the country’s key economic region would pile further pressure on President Goodluck Jonathan, who has faced scathing criticism over his handling of the Boko Haram crisis.