A terrorist group burned and shot to death at least 29 school children and one teacher in Yobe, Nigeria, over the weekend. The death count continues to rise, and the Nigerian government believes the Islamic group Boko Haram is responsible.
The Islamic fighters also attacked two schools last month, killing two teachers and 16 students. On Saturday, they surrounded a school dormitory and burned it down, then shot at children as they tried to escape.
''We were sleeping when we heard gunshots,'' said 15-year-old Musa Hassan. “When I woke up, someone was pointing a gun at me.” When he put his right hand up to shield his face, terrorists shot off four of his fingers. “They burned the children alive,” Hassan said. Children fled into the bush with bullet wounds or burns.
In response, the state’s governor, Ibrahim Gaidam, issued an order to close down all secondary schools in the region until September. Gaidam expressed frustration with how the national government has handled the situation: Prior to the incident, the military cut cell phone service in an effort to combat the terrorists, but as a result residents were unable to alert the military by cell phone about the attack.
President Goodluck Jonathan has deployed troops in Adamawa state, believed to be a stronghold of Boko Haram, and declared a state of emergency in Yobe. The military said it has killed and arrested hundreds of terrorists, but many Nigerians don’t think the government is adequately responding to the threat. They fear the government’s use of fighter jets and helicopter gunships on terrorist camps has aggravated the problem, pushing the terrorists into the mountains where they can be much harder to fight, and driving them to attack the schools and markets.
Jonathan said he “wants to assure [Nigerians] that the war against terrorists has been launched and will continue and the Nigerian government is determined to put an end to this menace … the killing is barbaric, completely wicked.”
The Boko Haram group has killed more than 1,600 civilians since 2010, gunning down religious leaders and school children. The group specifically targets Western education, seeing it as a threat to the Islamic state.