KANO, Nigeria – Unknown assailants killed at least 25 people at a polytechnic in northeast Nigeria, invading the campus dormitory and shooting or cutting their throats, authorities said on Tuesday.
The attack on Federal Polytechnic in Mubi City, Adamawa State, came as police were pushing to stem violence attributed to rebel Islamic militia Boko Haram, which is active in large part of northern Nigeria.
Police recently arrested many suspected members of Boko Haram. Authorities also said they killed Boko Haram spokesman Abu Qaqa and seized numerous weapons as part of a wider crackdown in northern Nigeria aimed at wiping out the militia. Boko Haram admitted that Abu Qaqa was arrested by security forces, but denied being killed.
The attack on the polytechnic may have been “fueled by campus politics” linked to rival factions after a student election, said Yushau Shuaib, spokesperson for the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency.
Campus politics, like local, state, and federal politics in Nigeria, are often violent, although killings are not common. Mubi is said to have a mixed Christian and Muslim population, and the victims were of both faiths.
The attackers were apparently looking for specific targets, Adamawa police spokesman Mohammed Ibrahim said.
“They called their victims by name and shot or shot them when they identified themselves,” Ibrahim said in a telephone interview. “The attackers killed 25 people in total, including 19 students from the Federal Institute of Technology and three other students from the School of Health Technology.”
Ibrahim said two security guards and a retired soldier were among the victims.
A relief official said 26 people were killed and 15 were seriously injured enough to be taken to hospital.
Boko Haram, which opposes secular education and governance, has attacked ATMs, schools, churches, mosques and police stations. It destroyed around 30 cell phone towers in northern Nigeria, crippling communications in some areas. The militia frequently assassinates Nigerian politicians and religious figures.
The rebel militia is responsible for more than 690 killings this year, according to the Associated Press. The group made no statement claiming responsibility for Tuesday’s attack.
Danjuma Aiso, a student who fled the polytechnic, said a statement had circulated in recent days warning students to leave the institute, the Associated Press reported. The college was temporarily closed.
“We were supposed to start our semester exams today but the school was closed and we were asked to leave,” said another student, Hadiza Balarabe, who visited the town of Yola. “Too bad.”
Special Envoy Abubakar reported from Kano and Times writer Dixon from Johannesburg, South Africa.