By Robyn Dixon, Los Angeles Times
JOHANNESBURG — At least eight people were killed Monday by a bomb blast at the School of Hygiene in the northern Nigeria city of Kano, with suspicion falling on the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
Nigerian media reported a suicide bomber approached a line of students at the school before detonating the blast. At least 20 people were injured, with fears the death toll may rise.
Although no group immediately claimed responsibility, Boko Haram has targeted schools and tertiary institutions before because of its bitter opposition to secular education and schools where males and females study together.
Those killed and maimed Monday were new students who had lined up for a screening, local media reported. Kano’s School of Hygiene trains nurses, midwives, public health workers, and others.
Kano, a major West African trading hub, has not suffered as many attacks as towns and villages farther east and farther north, but there have nonetheless been regular attacks, including a bomb blast last month that killed six people.
Boko Haram has been active for more than a decade but stepped up its violent insurgency in 2009, with its attacks becoming increasingly ferocious, hitting civilians.
The group is most widely known internationally for its kidnapping this year of more than 300 schoolgirls from Chibok town near the border with Cameroon. Most of the girls are still being held, with hopes fading for their release. The Nigerian government has ruled out negotiations with what it views as terrorists, while the military has said it will not carry out an operation to free the girls because of the likely high casualties.
Kano police commissioner Adelenre Shinaba told journalists Monday’s attack occurred at 2:05 p.m. and appeared to have been a suicide bombing. One suspect has been apprehended, he said.
In recent times Nigeria has seen extremist attacks on villages, markets, bus stations, near churches, and in traffic jams. In some cases the militia targets Christians, but many of its victims in northern Nigeria have been Muslims.
Last week at least 21 people watching a World Cup soccer match at a public screening venue were killed in Damaturu, the capital of Yobe state.
The Islamists have recently used a horrifying tactic: They have entered villages and towns disguised as military personnel, with uniforms and armed personnel carriers, ordered men to assemble in a central place, and then opened fire with machine guns and heavy weapons.
This past weekend, at least 40 people were gunned down in villages near Chibok, Chuha A, Chuha B, and Korongilim.
Interested in world news? Sign up for our daily email newsletter.