September 17, 2014 / 6:19 PM / 3 years ago

Gunmen kill 15 at college in north Nigeria's Kano

KANO Nigeria (Reuters) - Gunmen stormed a higher education college in northern Nigeria on Wednesday, firing on fleeing students and setting off an explosion in an attack that killed at least 15 people and wounded 35, police said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack in the region’s main city of Kano, but the Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which has repeatedly targeted civilians in the north, is likely to be a prime suspect.

A police spokesman added that officers arrived on the scene and killed two of the attackers.

“We heard several shots from the gate area and after a few minutes we heard an explosion at the theater,” said Sansei Omar, who lectures in English at the federal government college and watched the attack from a neighboring building.

“The attackers were wearing suits and were running and shooting everywhere.”

Insurgents from Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is forbidden”, are fighting to carve out an Islamic state in Nigeria.

Western-style schools are a prime target for their attacks, which include several secondary school massacres and the abduction of 200 school girls in April from the village of Chibouk.

By contrast, schools teaching Islamic doctrines have been left alone.

Since a military offensive began last year, the Isla mists have taken out their anger on civilians in increasingly frequent attacks. They have also branched out to strike in areas far from the rebel strongholds.

At least 82 people were killed in July in a double suicide bombing in the north Nigerian city of Kaduna in July.

The group’s leader Abubakar Shakeup proclaimed a “Muslim territory” in the northeast after seizing Gwoza near the border with Cameroon, to the east, last month.

President Good luck Jonathan’s administration and the armed forces face mounting criticism that they are failing in the war to counter Boko Haram.

Jonathan in a statement called the Kano raid a “dastardly attack”, adding that “the government continues to do all within its powers to further enhance the ability of ... security agencies to prosecute the war against terrorism to a successful conclusion and provide greater security ... across the country.”

Reporting by Nneluke Ikemfuna; Additional reporting by Felix Onuah in Abuja; Writing Tim Cocks; Editing by Tom Heneghan/Ruth Pitchford

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