At least 48 students were killed and 79 injured when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive device at a high school in Potiskum, Yobe State in northeastern Nigeria. The blast occurred during the Monday morning assembly at the Government Comprehensive Secondary Science School. The bomber was dressed as a student and he reportedly hid the explosives in a type of backpack popular with students.
When Nigerian soldiers arrived at the scene, they were pelted with rocks by community members who accused the military of not doing enough to protect them from terrorist attacks launched by Boko Haram.
Boko Haram was designated a terrorist group by the U.S. Department of State in November 2013. The group, whose name loosely translates to “Western education is sin,” has been engaged in an increasingly violent campaign against the Nigerian government and Western interests to create an Islamic caliphate in northeastern Nigeria.
In recent months, Boko Haram has continued taking control of cities and villages across northeastern Nigeria. In August, the jihadist group took control of Gwoza in Borno State and Buni Yadi in Yobe State, amongst other villages. Continuing its assault, the group took over Michika in Adamawa State in October and more recently, captured Mubi, the commercial center of Adamawa State. SaharaReporters reported that as of Nov. 10, the group took control of the Maiha Local Government Area in Adamawa state.
Over the weekend, Boko Haram released a new video highlighting their control over northeastern Nigerian towns. The video, sent to AFP, showed a somewhat different side of the jihadist group and its leader, Abubakar Shekau. Though he typically dresses in army fatigues, Shekau is shown wearing light blue vestments with an olive green robe while he stands on a makeshift pedestal speaking under the arched doorway of a room. In his speech, Shekau dismissed earlier Nigerian government claims of a ceasefire and celebrated, “We have indeed established an Islamic caliphate.”
The video also includes footage of Boko Haram fighters driving a tank and other vehicles in various unidentified towns. The release shows what looks to be a combination of townspeople and Boko Haram fighters cheering the group as members drove a tank in the street.
Shekau also used the video to express his support for jihadist groups around the world. Towards the end of the clip, a photograph of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is shown with an excerpt of a statement wherein the group proclaimed a caliphate in Iraq and Syria.
The video is just the latest in a string of releases. Shortly after kidnapping over 200 school girls from their boarding school in Chibok, Borno State, Boko Haram released a video wherein Shekau took responsibility for the mass abduction and threatened to sell the girls. A few months later, Shekau mockingly fired back at the worldwide social media campaign #BringBackOurGirls in another video, saying “Nigerians are saying BringBackOurGirls, and we are telling Jonathan [Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan] to bring back our arrested warriors, our army.” Despite recent government assurances that a deal to free the captives was in the works, the girls remain in Boko Haram’s captivity, and Shekau declared that they had been converted to Islam and “married … off.”
As part of its campaign, Boko Haram has repeatedly targeted schools and other parts of the education system, echoing yesterday’s attack. The Chibok kidnapping was perhaps the most notorious incident, but not the first. Bornn State’s school had been closed earlier in the year to protect students from the increasing violence. The kidnapped girls had returned that week to sit for their final exams. Since 2011, Boko Haram has “reportedly killed over 70 teachers and destroyed 900 school buildings since 2011” in Borno State alone. In September, the jihadist group attacked a teacher training college in Kano, killing at least 15 people.
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