The world is still coming to terms with the violent attack on sleeping students at the College of Agriculture in the Yobe state of Nigeria. A group of militants stormed the college on Sunday morning and all hell broke loose. They set classrooms on fire and then headed to the dormitories where they shot students while they were sleeping. This shocking attack comes only a week after militants from the Islamist group al-Shabaab shot and killed around 60 people at the Westgate Mall in Nairobi, Kenya.
More than 50 students were killed in this attack. Media reports allege that the attackers are members of a group called Boko Haram which, in English, means “Western education is forbidden”. This is apparently the reason for the shooting; to protest against Western education and influence. The spokesperson for the army in Yobe state, Lazarus Eli is certain that Boko Haram is responsible for the shooting and arson incidents. Boko Haram is intent on forming an Islamic state in Yobe.
Speaking on behalf of the College of Agriculture, Molima Idi Mato said that the classrooms were burned in the early hours of Sunday morning. Shortly thereafter, the students were shot. He said: “They attacked our students while they were sleeping in their hostels, they opened fire at them.” Most of the victims are males between the ages of 18 to 22.
A survivor, Ibrahim Mohammed told reporters that two vehicles delivered the attackers. Some of them wore uniforms similar to those of the Nigerian army. It seemed that the attackers were familiar with the layout of the college as they only attacked male hostels. There is one hostel which houses female students and there have been no reports of an attack at that section of the college. Mohammed explained that he and a few others managed to escape harm by fleeing to the nearby bushes.
Since 2010, the Boko Haram group has killed in excess of 1 700 people in their fight for an Islamic state in a country where half the population is Christian. A state of emergency has been declared in the north-eastern region of Nigeria as there have been other incidents in recent weeks.
South Africa has been warned about the presence of terrorist groups and training camps in the country after it was discovered that one of the attackers in the Kenyan Mall shooting had a South African passport. The passport was declared invalid by the South African authorities. Criminals choose South Africa over many other countries as a base or hide-out.