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Nigeria: Boko Haram Slaughters Students En-Route to Exams

Sun, April 13, 2014

Boko Haram's brutal attacks have left many villages desolate. Photo © Reuters

Boko Haram's brutal attacks have left many villages desolate. Photo © Reuters

At least 200 students on their way to sit exams have been massacred by the Islamist terrorist group over the weekend reports say. Boko Haram is a group seeking to create an independent Islamic state in north-east Nigeria.

According to Borno area Senator Zannah Ahmed insurgents arrived in two armored personnel cars and seven double cabin pickups. They drove from village to village shooting people and torching buildings. It often takes a time for news of events like this to filter through, as the villages attacked are in isolated rural areas with poor communications.

Senator Ahmed told reporters "It is a must for me to speak since people's lives are involved and they are my people. All these are happening in my constituency and it will be wrong to keep quiet. I feel so much pained and would have not love to speak (sic) but definitely my conscience will not let me do that."

Boko Haram, which translates as "Western Education is Forbidden" have been behind many brutal attacks on civilians during their insurgency. It was founded in 2002 by Mohammed Yusuf to fight against the perceived 'westernization' of Nigeria. The conflict has become sectarian between the largely Muslim north and the largely Christian South. However, there are at least 370 different ethnic and cultural groups in Nigeria, with a commensurate number of languages. These divisions have made peace and unity difficult to achieve.

Schools and students have been targeted in the past, presumably because of Boko Haram's focus on preventing western education. In February, 59 boys were killed in a massacre at a secondary school. Churches and other buildings were targeted at the beginning of the year, prompting a state of emergency to be declared in three of the northen states where Boko Haram operates.

In November 2013 the US State Department designated them as a foreign terrorist organization. They are linked to Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) an Algerian Islamist terrorist group.