- (Photo: Reuters/Stringer)
Gunmen from terrorist group Boko Haram stormed a college dormitory in Nigeria on Sunday and killed as many as 40 students who were sleeping, in its latest shocking attack on civilians.
"Boko Haram terrorists who went into the school and opened fire on students," Lazarus Eli, a military spokesman in the town of Gujba in Yobe state, told AFP. One of the witnesses at the College of Agriculture, 23-year-old student Salamanu Ibrahim, said that there were dozens of gunmen who took part, firing indiscriminately into the dorm rooms.
"The attackers went berserk," Ibrahim said. "They were fully armed with sophisticated rifles, and improvised explosives."
In a statement, Gov. Ibrahim Gaidam of Yobe insisted that more needs to be done to stop Boko Haram.
"Although there is (an) increase in troop movement and military hardware deployment in the northeast, people are yet to see the kind of action on the ground that effectively nips criminal and terrorist activities in the bud," Gaidam said.
Boko Haram has made it its mission to wage war against Christians in the predominantly Muslim north, and against the government of President Goodluck Jonathan. In a TV interview, Jonathan said that he has instructed his security chiefs "to look at different ways of handling" the insurgency.
"Why did they kill them? ... You can ask and ask," Jonathan added about the massacre.
Despite efforts to stop the terrorist organization, attacks against civilians have continued. Islamists stopped a minibus late in August outside of the Nigerian city of Jos, and upon finding out that the five individuals on board were Christians, they forced them to get off and lie down in a ditch, where they were shot dead.
Since its inception in 2001, Boko Haram has attacked government and religious buildings, bombing churches, schools and offices. Its members have made it clear that their view Christians as "enemies" and want to drive them out of the country, with the aim of establishing Islamic rule over Nigeria.
U.S. President Barack Obama met with Jonathan in New York last week, where the two "reaffirmed their commitment to fighting terrorism" and ending the insurgency in northern Nigeria.
The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has urged Obama to press the Nigerian president on adopting strong measures to end the extreme sectarian violence that has plagued the region in recent years.
"The Nigerian government's overreliance on the use of force to tackle communal and Boko Haram violence and its failure to promote rule of law and human rights will only further destabilize this important ally," USCIRF Chairman Robert P. George wrote.
"In USCIRF's view, Nigeria has the capacity to address communal, sectarian and Boko Haram violence by enforcing the rule of law and making perpetrators accountable through the judicial system, and not relying solely on a counterterrorism strategy involving the security services."