A female suicide bomber on Wednesday detonated a bomb at the Federal College of Education (FCE), Kontagora, Niger State, when the National Business and Technical Examination Board (NABTEB) was organising examinations for the 2014 academic session in the schoolâ€™s auditorium.
According to an eyewitness, who was lucky to have finished her papers, the bomb went off before the suicide bomber was able to gain entry into the auditorium where students were writing their exams.
â€œI saw the bomber wearing a hijab and running towards the auditorium then the bomb exploded and killed her.â€
Another eyewitness, who spoke with THISDAY on the phone, said a student also died in the attack while several others sustained various degrees of injuries.
She also stated that most of those injured were those who scampered to safety.
When contacted, the Niger State Police Public Relations Officer, Mallam Ibrahim Abiodun Gambari, confirmed the bombing, stating that the suicide bomber died on the spot and the four students who were injured had been taken to the Kontagora General Hospital for treatment.
He stated that from preliminary investigations, the suicide bomber had targeted the school library but could not gain entry and decided to detonate it before reaching the library.
Condemning the attack on the school, the Niger State Governor, Dr. Muâ€™azu Babangida Aliyu, called it dastardly.
Aliyu urged people of Kontagora and indeed Niger State to remain calm, as a full-scale investigation had been launched although the blast could not be linked to any terror organisation yet.
He said the state government had doubled security in all schools in the state, adding that it had also set up a team to ensure continuous screening of people in school environments to prevent evil perpetrators from infiltrating them.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack but it looked like the handiwork of Boko Haram which has targeted several educational institutions.
Death Toll in Potiskum Rises to 58
In a related incident, the death toll in the suspected Boko Haram suicide bombing of a secondary school in Potiskum, Yobe State, has risen to 58, a school official told AFP wednesday.
â€œFrom records at our disposal, the death toll now stands at 58 while the number of those injured has soared to 117,â€ said the official at the school.
A bomber disguised in school uniform blew himself up as students gathered for the morning assembly at the Government Comprehensive Senior Science Secondary School before classes began last Monday.
The police previously gave the death toll as 47 with 79 injured and said Boko Haram, which is opposed to so-called Western or secular education, was believed to be responsible.
The attack was one of the worst against a state-run school in Boko Haramâ€™s bloody five-year insurgency, which has seen boarding school students killed in their beds.
The group was also responsible for the mass kidnapping of 276 schoolgirls from Chibok in Borno State in April. More than six months on, 219 are still being held.
Local Hunters Kill 80 Sect Members
Meanwhile, at least 80 members of the Boko Haram sect were reportedly killed yesterday in a gun battle with local hunters in Maiha Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
One of the hunters, who spoke to THISDAY in Yola, said the capture of Mahia town on Monday by insurgents motivated the local hunters in the town to mobilise other hunters in neighbouring communities to team up against the insurgents in order to recapture the town.
He said the hunters fought gallantly, killed 80 members of the insurgents and recovered Mahia Local Government headquarters from the control of the insurgents.
The hunter said it was the military that prevented them from dislodging the insurgents because they are not constituted security forces and could not be trusted with such a mission.
He appealed to the military authorities to screen them and give them the go ahead to take on the Boko Haram insurgents, expressing the confidence that they have the capacity to dislodge the insurgents from several communities.
â€œIf the military can authorise us and provide back up, we will wipe out the insurgents because we know their hideouts and if it is juju (voodoo), we also have it and can use that to identify them.
â€œBoko Haram insurgents fear us because they know what we can do, let the military leave us with Boko Haram and see what is going to happen. We took advantage of the fact that the soldiers had fled the area and we used the opportunity to kill them and chased others out of Mahia,â€ he said.
Providing further insight into how the hunters drove away the insurgents, he said he and his colleagues ambushed the insurgents who were on their way to Mahia from Mubi and killed about 80 of them and chased out the few left.
However, the fear of a reprisal by the insurgents has forced residents of Mahia and its environs to flee from their homes to Yola, the capital of Adamawa State, to take refuge.
The mass exodus increased the influx of displaced persons into the state capital. Some of those, who spoke to journalists in Yola, said they were fleeing from the troubled areas, including Mubi, because of counter-attacks by the military which has been trying to recapture towns in the state, adding that they did not want to be victims of the militaryâ€™s air bombardment.
THISDAY gathered that over 20,000 local hunters in Adamawa State had agreed to team up to help Nigerian troops liberate the outstanding five local government areas still under the control of the insurgents.
A fleeing resident from Mubi, Mallam Habibu, said the use of local hunters to fight the insurgents in the trouble areas may be effective because most of the hunters are ex-soldiers and policemen and are still strong, effective and know the terrain.