A boy searches the ground next to a burnt-out vehicle,
caused by an attack from Boko Haram militants.
Gunmen from Islamist group Boko Haram shot or burned to
death 59 pupils in a boarding school in northeast Nigeria
overnight, a hospital official and security forces said.
"Some of the students' bodies were burned to ashes," Police
Commissioner Sanusi Rufai said of the attack on the Federal
Government college of Buni Yadi, a secondary school in Yobe
state, near the state's capital city of Damaturu.
Bala Ajiya, an official at the Specialist Hospital Damaturu,
told Reuters by phone the death toll had risen to 59.
"Fresh bodies have been brought in. More bodies were
discovered in the bush after the students who had escaped
with bullet wounds died from their injuries," he said.
Rafai, who had given an earlier estimate of 29 killed, said
all those killed were boys. He said the school's 24
buildings, including staff quarters, were completely burned
to the ground.
President Goodluck Jonathan called the attack "callous and
senseless murder ... by deranged terrorists and fanatics who
have clearly lost all human morality and descended to
The Islamists, whose struggle for an Islamic state in
northern Nigeria has killed thousands and made them the
biggest threat to security in Africa's top oil producer, are
increasingly preying on the civilian population.
Militants from Boko Haram, whose name means "Western
education is sinful" in the northern Hausa language, have
frequently attacked schools in the past. A similar attack in
June in the nearby village of Mamudo left 22 students dead.
They have killed more than 300 people this month, mostly
civilians, including in two attacks last week that killed
around 100 each, one in which militants razed a whole village
and shot panicked residents as they tried to flee.
That attack prompted U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to
condemn Boko Haram for "unspeakable ... acts of terror".
The failure of the military to protect civilians is fuelling
anger in the northeast, the region worst affected by the
four-and-a-half-year insurgency. An offensive ordered by
Jonathan in May has not succeeded in crushing the rebels and
has triggered reprisals against civilians.
A military spokesman for Yobe state, Captain Lazarus Eli,
said "our men are down there in pursuit of the killers", but
gave no further details.
Addressing a news conference on Monday, Jonathan defended the
military's record, saying it had had some successes against
Boko Haram. He said Nigeria was working with the Cameroon
authorities to try to prevent militants from mounting attacks
in Nigeria and then fleeing over the border.
The military shut the northern part of the border with
Cameroon on the weekend.
The insurgents mostly occupy the remote, hilly Gwoza area
bordering Cameroon, from where they attack civilians they
accuse of being pro-government. They have started abducting
girls, a new tactic reminiscent of Uganda's cult-like Lord's
Resistance Army in decades past.