Gunmen attack students, killing at least 26 in Nigeria

Updated: 2012-10-03 10:03

By Agencies in Kano, Nigeria (China Daily)

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Gunmen opened fire in a student housing area near a polytechnic school in northeastern Nigeria on Tuesday, killing at least 26 people in an attack whose motives remained unclear, officials said.

Details were still emerging of the attack in the town of Mubi and officials said they were seeking to confirm reports of the death toll. Emergency and security officers in the region were rushing to the town.

"They are conducting elections in the Federal Polytechnic and unknown gunmen just entered and sprayed people with bullets," said Abdulkarim Bello of the Red Cross, adding that more than 10 people were killed.

Adamawa state, where Mubi is located, has been hit by violence blamed on Islamist extremist group Boko Haram, but officials said they also could not rule out the possibility that the attack was linked to the student elections.

A spokesman for the National Emergency Management Agency said initial reports indicated some of the victims were candidates in the polls. There were conflicting reports over whether the elections were being held on Tuesday or had been carried out in previous days.

"It was shooting by unknown gunmen," said the agency's Yushau Shuaib. "A number of people died."

A military spokesman in Adamawa state confirmed there was an incident involving gunmen, but could not provide further details.

"I am now on my way to Mubi in the company of other security officials," Lieutenant Saleh Mohammed Buba said. "There was an incident at the polytechnic involving some gunmen."

Nigeria's military said last week it had killed a senior Boko Haram leader and arrested 156 suspected members of the group during a raid in Mubi. The town had been placed under curfew during the raid but it has since been lifted.

In September, Boko Haram claimed arson attacks on about two dozen telecommunication masts across northern Nigeria, with Mubi among the areas hit. Mobile phone reception has been badly affected in some areas.

Mubi is not far from the city of Maiduguri in neighboring Borno state, which is considered the base of the Islamist group that is blamed for killing more than 1,400 people in northern and central Nigeria since 2010.

The town has seen previous such violence, including in January, when gunmen opened fire on Christian Igbos at a house as they mourned the death of a friend killed in a shooting the night before.

Boko Haram has claimed to be seeking an Islamic state in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north, but its demands have repeatedly shifted and it is believed to include a number of factions with varying aims.

Nigeria, Africa's most populous nation and largest oil producer, is roughly divided between a mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south.

AFP-Reuters

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