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Dozens Dead in Suicide Bombing in Northeastern Nigeria

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On Monday, a suicide bomber killed nearly fifty students in a school in northeastern Nigeria. The attack, which has been blamed on Boko Haram, is the latest in a series of atrocities against schoolchildren in the state of Yobe and is one of the deadliest attacks against schools teaching a so-called Western curriculum.

During the early morning hours, a suicide bomber targeted students at the Government Comprehensive Senior Science Secondary School in Potiskum. The attack occurred at 7:50 AM (0650 GMT) as students were waiting to hear the principal’s daily address. National police spokesman Emmanuel Ojukwu confirmed the incident, disclosing that at least 48 students, all believed to be in their teens, were killed while 79 others were injured. According to survivors, some 2,000 students had gathered for Monday morning’s weekly assembly. The suicide bomber was wearing a school uniform and entered the school unnoticed. Officials believe that the explosives were hidden in a type of rucksack that is popular with students. Although investigators have released minimal details about the bomber, months ago, Nigeria’s military reported finding a bomb factory in the northern city of Kano, where explosives were being sewn into rucksacks.  No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, however Boko Haram is believed responsible.

Frustration with the government has grown high in recent weeks, as Boko Haram has increased its tempo of attacks in the wake of an October 17 announcement by the government, which claimed to have brokered a cease-fire. Boko Haram’s leader has denied these negotiations, stating that no truce has been reached. On the ground sources reported Monday that angry locals had blocked access to the school and an adjoining hospital, preventing security forces from getting close to the site of the explosion. Family members of wounded students reported Monday that the school did not have proper security, with one local disclosing that three months ago, an anti-bomb squad was called in after officials discovered a bomb at the school. While the federal government of President Goodluck Jonathan, who recently announced that he will run for re-election in February 2015, has promised more security for schools located in northeastern Nigeria, Monday’s attack has shown that militants operating in the region continue to have relative easy access to schools in the area and are able to disguise themselves as students and enter schools without being approached by officials.

Monday’s attack came a day after the release of a new Boko Haram video, in which the group’s leader, Abubakar Shekau, again rejected the Nigerian government’s claims of a ceasefire and peace talks. It also comes a week after a suicide bomb attack in the same city killed thirty people a week ago when suspected Boko Haram fighters attacked a religious procession of moderate Muslims.

Since 2009, Boko Haram has carried out numerous attacks targeting schools that teach a so-called Western curriculum. In February, gunmen killed at least 40 students after throwing explosives into the dormitory of a government boarding school in Buni Yadi, also in Yobe state. In July 2013, 42 students were killed when Boko Haram stormed dormitories in a gun and bomb attack on a government boarding school in the village of Mamudo, near Potiskum.

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