Skip to main content

Gunmen open fire on sleeping college students in Nigeria

By Emma Lacey-Bordeaux
September 30, 2013 -- Updated 0548 GMT (1348 HKT)
A screengrab taken on September 25, 2013 shows a man claiming to be the leader of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau.
A screengrab taken on September 25, 2013 shows a man claiming to be the leader of Nigerian Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: At least 40 students were killed by gunmen who attacked them as they slept
  • The attack is the third on schools in the region since June
  • No claim of responsibility yet, but a military spokesman says evidence points to Boko Haram
  • Since 2009 Boko Haram has targeted schools, churches and police stations

Are you there? Share photos and video with CNN iReport if you can do so safely.

(CNN) -- Under the cover of darkness, gunmen approached a college dormitory in a rural Nigerian town and opened fire on students who were sleeping.

At least 40 students died, according to the News Agency of Nigeria.

The gunmen fired indiscriminately on the male dorm, said Lazarus Eli, a military spokesman. The attack took place at about 1 a.m. Sunday at the College of Agriculture Gujba.

"So far all evidence points to the Boko Haram," Eli told CNN by phone.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Part of a pattern?

Since 2009, Boko Haram has sown murder and mayhem in Nigeria's northeastern region. The Islamic militant group's name translates from the local Hausa language as "Western education is a sin."

Boko Haram militants often target schools and churches. In 2011 and 2012, Christmas attacks were blamed on them.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan created a new wing of the military to specifically deal with the insurgency.

In May, Jonathan declared a state of emergency in three northeastern states. He cited "terrorists" who have caused a "a near breakdown of law and order."

One of the three states is Yobe, where Sunday's attack took place.

It was the third attack on a school in four months in Yobe.

The ongoing violence in this predominantly Muslim region has claimed thousands of lives.

Meanwhile, human rights groups have accused the military of committing atrocities against civilians.

During a May trip to the country, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Nigeria "has acknowledged that there have been some problems" and was "working to try to control it."

CNN's Nana Karikari-apau contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
For years, Morten Storm moved between two worlds. A radical Islamist turned double agent is lifting the lid on some of the world's best-kept secrets.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1534 GMT (2334 HKT)
What will happen to Scotland's business (not to mention its currency) if they vote to leave?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
The Ebola virus, very deadly and currently without a cure, is fast-spreading throughout the small West African country.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1324 GMT (2124 HKT)
Go to any provincial city in China and you'd be forgiven for thinking the national youth pastimes are online gaming and flirting.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1253 GMT (2053 HKT)
ISIS has captured the minds of a new generation of global jihadists. What does it mean for al Qaeda?
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 2232 GMT (0632 HKT)
ISIS has slaughtered hundreds. Now nearly 40 nations have agreed to take the fight to the militants. But what can they do?
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 0851 GMT (1651 HKT)
North Korea calls its human rights a "superior system."
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 0929 GMT (1729 HKT)
In Wenzhou, called the "Jerusalem of China," authorities have demolished churches.
Are you Muslim? What do you want the world to know about your religion?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1429 GMT (2229 HKT)
A number of Paralympic athletes in Ghana are hoping to use sport to change negative public perceptions.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1142 GMT (1942 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT