Sleeping students shot dead in rampage at college in Nigeria

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 30 September, 2013, 4:10am

Suspected Islamist militants stormed a college in northeastern Nigeria and shot dead about 40 male students, some of them while they slept, early yesterday.

The gunmen, thought to be members of rebel sect Boko Haram, attacked one hostel, took some students outside before killing them and shot others trying to flee, witnesses said.

"They started gathering students into groups outside, then they opened fire and killed one group and then moved onto the next group and killed them. It was so terrible," said one student who survived.

Ahmed Gujunba, a taxi driver who lives near the college, said: "They came with guns at about 1am 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."

Bodies were recovered from dormitories, classrooms and outside in the undergrowth, a member of staff at the college said.

A witness counted 40 bloody corpses piled on the floor at the main hospital in the Yobe state capital Damaturu, most of them young men believed to be students.

The bodies were taken from the college in Gujba, a rural area 50 kilometres south of Damaturu and about 200 kilometres from Nigeria's borders with Cameroon and Niger.

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.

The group, which wants to establish an Islamic state in northern Nigeria, has intensified attacks on civilians in recent weeks in revenge for a military offensive against its insurgency.