School massacre haunts Nigerian village

TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY AMINU ABUBAKAR A staff inspects on August 6, 2013 a burnt student hostel in the Government Secondary School of Mamudo in northeast Nigerian Yobe state where Boko Haram gunmen launched gun and explosives attacks on student hostels on July 6, killing 41 students and a teacher, the group's dealiest in its wave of attacks on schools as part of its armed campaign to establish an Islamic state in the West African nation. AFP PHOTO / AMINU ABUBAKAR

CLASPING his shaking hands, Malam Ahmad inspects the mangled iron beds and blown out walls of a school in Mamudo, northeastern Nigeria where dozens of students were massacred last month.

“We are still in shock from the horror of the attack,” Ahmad said as he pointed to the now deserted school, where he has taught English since it was established 13 years ago.

Suspected members of an extremist group Boko Haram stormed the secondary school in the farming village early last month opening fire and throwing explosives inside hostels.

By the time the raid was finished, 41 students and one teacher were dead in yet another attack by the insurgents who are now being pursued by Nigeria’s military.

Local officials say they will not allow the attack to deter them from educating the school’s 3,000 students and the military claims the raid was a “desperate move” by insurgents.

The massacre has however instilled deep fear and led to the temporary closure of all schools in Yobe state, where Mamudo is located, to review security.

One student, 17-year-old Bello Sani, said many of his peers were scared and unable to sleep since the attack. On the night the insurgents arrived, the student were sleeping in a classroom that was used as a hostel in the evenings.

Sani, who lived near the school said that upon being awoken by the the sounds of guns and explosions, he had rushed on his bicycle to the school which was almost reduced to rubble.

“I also heard people running past our class into the bush. We also rushed out of the class and ran with others, who were all students, into the bush. We kept running until we were deep inside the bush.”

He said they remained there until the next day and were eventually found by soldiers.

Another teacher who gave his name as Lawan said students had been asking when the school would reopen.

“It is heart-warming and it boosts our morale as teachers to never give in to terror,” he said adding that many teachers from other schools had also been asked as to when they could get back to class.

The group had targeted and attacked over 200 schools. Unlike before, where the bulk of school attacks involved the burning of classrooms with some casualties, last month’s attack left many dead.

The group’s aim is to make sure that children in the country do not have an education especially one that is influenced by the west.

Vigilante groups have been formed to protect all schools, said Abdullahi Bagel, a spokesman for the Yobe state governor. — AFP

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