Boko Haram was suspected of killing nearly 50 pupils in a suicide bombing in north-eastern Nigeria on Monday, in one of the worst attacks against schools teaching a so-called Western curriculum. The explosion ripped through an all-boys school in Potiskum just as students gathered for morning assembly before classes began, causing panic and chaos.
The massacre came just a day after the release of a new Boko Haram video in which the Islamist group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, again rejected Nigerian government claims of a cease-fire and peace talks. Students at the Government Comprehensive Senior Science Secondary School were waiting to hear the principal’s daily address when the explosion happened at 7:50 am (0650 GMT). Several witnesses described the blast as “thunderous” and the bloody aftermath a scene of abandoned footwear, school books, bags and body parts. “There was an explosion detonated by a suicide bomber. We have 47 dead and 79 injured,” national police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu said, adding that Boko Haram was believed to be responsible.
One rescue worker said the wounded had “various degrees of injuries”, while those who survived complained of hearing problems from the deafening blast. The school has more than 1,000 pupils and caters for boys aged 15 to 20. The victims are all thought to be in their teens. Student Adamu Abdullahi said those at the centre of the blast near the principal’s office were flung in all directions and others were knocked off their feet. “I found myself under the weight of another student, who fell over me. I’m certain he was dead. I was dazed and disorientated for a moment,” he told AFP.