POTISKUM, Nigeria – A suicide bomber disguised in school uniform detonated explosives at a high school assembly in the northeast Nigerian city of Potiskum on Monday, killing at least 48 students, according to survivors and a morgue attendant.
Soldiers rushed to the scene, grisly with body parts, in the capital of Yobe state, but they were chased away with stones and calls by people angry at the military’s inability to halt a 5-year-old Islamic insurgency that has killed thousands and driven hundreds of thousands from their homes.
A suicide bomb attack in the same city killed 30 people one week ago, when suspected Boko Haram fighters attacked a religious procession of moderate Muslims.
Some 2,000 students had gathered for Monday morning’s weekly assembly at the Government Technical Science College when the explosion blasted through the school hall, according to survivors who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of repercussions.
“We were waiting for the principal to address us, around 7:30 a.m., when we heard a deafening sound and I was blown off my feet, people started screaming and running, I saw blood all over my body,” 17-year-old student Musa Ibrahim Yahaya said from the general hospital, where he was being treated for head wounds.
Hospital workers said dozens are being treated including people with serious injuries that may need amputations.
A morgue attendant said 48 bodies were brought to the hospital and all appeared to be between the ages of 11 and 20 years old. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to give information to reporters.
Survivors said the bomber appeared to have hidden the explosives in the type of rucksack popular with students. Months ago Nigeria’s military had reported finding a bomb factory where explosives were being sewn into rucksacks in the northern city of Kano.
Many Nigerians are angry that Boko Haram has increased attacks and bombings since the government on Oct. 17 claimed to have brokered a cease-fire. Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau has denied negotiating a truce.