Boko Haram Islamists accused in shooting deaths of 40 Nigerian college students
Students were killed as they slept, others were gunned down as they tried to flee
The militant Islamist group Boko Haram is suspected in the massacre of 40 Nigerian college students. The college, in Gujba, a rural area 30 miles south of Damaturu and around 130 miles from Nigerian borders with Cameroon and Niger, was stormed by armed militants. Many students were shot to death in their sleep. Others were killed as they tried to run away.
"They came with guns around 1 a.m. and went directly to the male hostel and opened fire on them . The college is in the bush. so the other students were running around helplessly as guns went off and some of them were shot down," a taxi driver who lives by the college says.
Bodies were pulled from dorms, classrooms and outside in the undergrowth, a college staff member said.
Boko Haram and spin-off Islamist groups like the AL Qaeda-linked Ansaru have become the biggest security threat in Nigeria, which Africa's second largest economy and top oil exporter.
Members of Boko Haram are believed to be behind the latest attack. The group wants to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria. Boko Haram has since intensified attacks on civilians in recent weeks in revenge for a military offensive against its insurgency. Viewed as the focus of Western-style education and culture, many schools and colleges have been targeted.
President Goodluck Jonathan described the assault as "the creation of the devil" and suggested it might be time to change tactics against the rebels, without going into details.
The west has grown increasingly concerned about the threat posed by Islamist groups across Africa, from Mali and Algeria in the Sahara, to Kenya in the east, where Somalia's AL-Shabaab fighters killed at least 67 people in an attack on a Nairobi shopping mall a week ago.
State police commissioner Sanusi Rufai said he suspected Boko Haram was behind the attack but gave no details.
Thousands have been killed since Boko Haram launched its uprising in 2009, turning itself from a clerical movement opposed to Western culture into an armed militia with growing links to AL Qaeda's West African wing.
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