Nigerian College Shootings

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by Matthew Harper.

During the night between Monday, October 1, and Tuesday, October 2, gunmen attacked a college in Adamawa, Nigeria, killing at least 26 people, 19 of which have been confirmed to be students. Other individuals killed were security guards as well as other non-students. Although many of those killed were Muslims, there were some Christian students killed as well.

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The attacks took place at the Federal Polytechnic Mubi. The death toll from these overnight attacks continues to be reported as 26, but some reports figure upwards of 40 total deaths. BBC News says that the Nigerian police, although actively looking for the responsible parties, have made no arrests, despite reports earlier in the week saying that arrests had been made already.

Although the area’s police think that there was a possible political motive of some sort, most believe that Islamist insurgents were behind the attack, as they’ve targeted that area of Nigeria before. According to Reuters, the gunmen were calling out student names before killing them. A police raid of the student halls had taken place the week previous, resulting in the discovery of many weapons. The police aren’t sure whether there was any relation between this raid and the attacks, but it is possible as the raid was aimed at weeding out Boko Haram, a group of Islamist militants who are “considered to be the biggest security threat in Nigeria”(Reuters). This militant group is responsible for thousands of deaths in the region and their leader released a video on Monday “vowing to continue fighting.” That having been said, Boko Haram, despite their statements before the attacks, has not released any statements since and has not at all mentioned what took place at the school, leading some to believe they might not have been responsible.

One theory behind the shootings is that political, religious or cultural rivalry between the students, something that has become an issue at other schools throughout Nigeria, spurred the attacks, which could have come from inside the school and not the outside militant group that most believe perpetrated the atrocities. The school denies this, though, and one official told the AFP news agency that reports of student politics leading to the killings were a “fallacy.”

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With full police investigations in effect and many around Nigeria and the rest of the world in a state of shock, Nigeria’s Senate released a statement condemning attacks and hoping for a quick resolution to the situation, hopefully with the attackers being arrested. With Boko Haram still incredibly active (and promising to stay so) in the region, though, as well as with continuing issues of student rivalries about a variety of very personal subjects, it is unlikely that this tragedy is the last of its kind.