10 Nov 2014

‘Boko Haram suicide bomber’ kills 48 in school attack

Dozens of Nigerian boys are killed and 79 injured by a suicide bomber dressed as a student at a school assembly.

Angry locals blocked the entrance to the boys’ school in Potiskum, Nigeria after the bombing during morning assembly.

The suicide bomber, dressed as one of the students, killed at least 48 people – most of them students – and injured 79 others.

No-one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, although local police believe it was carried out by the Nigerian militant group.

The group released a new video today, showing militants in armoured vehicles driving up and down roads in an unidentified town, reportedly Shekau which is said to have fallen under their control.

The school attack prompted locals to block the school entrance as they tried to avoid a repeat of an attack last week, when members of the security forces fired at residents after a bomb killed nearly 30 people.

The attack took place in Yobe State, a territory close to the stronghold of Sunni Muslim Boko Haram militants, who have staged a five-year insurgency.

Attacks worsen

Boko Haram has intensified its attacks since a cease fire agreement was announced by the Nigerian government last month, and the imminent release of more than 200 school girls kidnapped by the group.

But the group’s leader denied a ceasefire deal had been reached, and also said the schoolgirls have not been released.

Boko Haram – which means “western education is sinful” – has attacked schools and killed thousands in its fight for an Islamist state.

In April, the group kidnapped nearly 300 girls from their school in the town of Chibok in the north eastern Borno state.

'Boko Haram suicide bomber' kills 48 in school attack

Their plight became a worldwide cause celebre, with David Cameron describing the incident as “pure evil” in the House of Commons.

In May, bomb blasts linked to Boko Haram in the Nigerian city of Jos killed at least 118 people.

Last month, children captured by Boko Haram were reportedly being forced into helping military operations, according to a handful of children who were either released or had escaped.

Nigeria’s military said in May it knew the location of more than 200 missing schoolgirls, abducted by terrorist group Boko Haram seven weeks ago, are located – but says it will not use force to rescue them.

Messy rescue efforts

In July, More than 60 women and girls abducted by the Nigerian Islamist militant group Boko Haram two weeks earlier returned home.

The man negotiating for the release of the 200 kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria told Channel 4 News in June about his frustration over the chaos surrounding efforts to free them.

Stephen Davis, an Anglican clergyman from Western Australia, slammed the general handling of the hostage crisis, saying his team had “come within a whisker” of brokering a release three times within the past month, only to have each handover scuppered at the last moment.

He and others Channel 4 News spoke to alleged that powerful figures with “vested interests” had sought to sabotage a deal.

The 220 missing girls were, Dr Davis believed, being held in three main camps, under different Boko Haram commanders, all of them outside Nigeria’s borders.

There are long-standing allegations of senior figures in the military and intelligence services “skimming” money from generous defence budgets designed to fight the worsening insurgency.

An adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan has also told us of deep-seated suspicions that Muslim politicians in Nigeria’s restive northern states do not want to see a Christian president from the south succeed in resolving the crisis.