ABUJA— At least 25 people were killed late Monday in what appears to be a systematic slaughter in Adamawa State in northern Nigeria. Locals say the victims, mostly college students, were individually questioned before being attacked.
The day after the killing spree, this student at the Federal Polytechnic College in the town of Mubi, who doesn’t want to be named, says students are fleeing the area, at least those that can find a car or a bus.
On a crackly line from Mubi he says gunshots could be heard around 10 o'clock Monday night and continued for three hours until it started to rain.
He says the assailants went from house to house, in a student residential area, asking questions and killing those who gave the wrong answer. Students were asked about their religion, he says. However, not everyone agrees with that account.
Another student told a VOA reporter the killers were asking about politics, the day after student elections.
Daniel Babayi, the executive secretary of the Northern States Christian Association of Nigeria, says he believes the killings were a reprisal attack after 156 people were arrested and accused of being members of the Islamist militant group known as Boko Haram late last month.
The only thing witnesses agree upon entirely is how the victims were killed. Babayi says family members called him to describe the carnage. “Some were actually slaughtered with knives. And some were shot. So that is the reports that I have received from some of the students, some of whom are my relatives," he said.
The attack came on the evening of Nigeria’s Independence Day, on which President Goodluck Jonathan said the nation had "refused to be broken by sectarian crises."
On the same day, Boko Haram released a Youtube video denying the group was engaged in peace talks with the government and denying reports that the group’s spokesperson had been killed by the military.
Boko Haram has been blamed for 1,400 deaths in the past three years through attacks on churches, schools, security forces, the government, the media and communications networks. Sectarian violence has claimed the lives of thousands of Nigerians in the past decade.
Police say the Federal Polytechnic College at Mubi will be closed indefinitely.
Abdulkareem Haruna contributed to this report from Maiduguri. Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna. Ardo Hazzad contributed to this report from Bauchi.