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
July 12, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
Tichleman 1
A makeup artist, writer and model who loves monkeys and struggles with demons.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
Lionel Messi's ability is not in question -- but will the World Cup final allow him to emerge from another footballing legend's shadow?
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1029 GMT (1829 HKT)
Why are Iraqi politicians dragging their feet while ISIS militants fortify their foothold across the country?
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1332 GMT (2132 HKT)
An elephant, who was chained for 50 years, cries tears of joy after being freed in India. CNN's Sumnima Udas reports.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 0732 GMT (1532 HKT)
Beneath a dusty town in northeastern Pakistan, CNN explores a cold labyrinth of hidden tunnels that was once a safe haven for militants.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 2249 GMT (0649 HKT)
CNN's Ravi Agrawal asks whether Narendra Modi can harness the country's potential to finally deliver growth.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 0444 GMT (1244 HKT)
CNN's Ben Wedeman visits the Yazji family and finds out what it's like living life in the middle of conflict.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1423 GMT (2223 HKT)
Israel has deployed its Iron Dome defense system to halt incoming rockets. Here's how it works.
Even those who aren't in the line of fire feel the effects of the chaos that has engulfed Iraq since extremists attacked.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1634 GMT (0034 HKT)
People walk with their luggage at the Maiquetia international airport that serves Caracas on July 3, 2014. A survey by pollster Datanalisis revealed that 25% of the population surveyed (end of May) has at least one family member or friend who has emigrated from the country. AFP PHOTO/Leo RAMIREZ (Photo credit should read LEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Plane passengers are used to paying additional fees, but one airport in Venezuela is now charging for the ultimate hidden extra -- air.
ADVERTISEMENT