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Gunmen believed to be Islamists from Nigeria's Boko Haram insurgent group killed 42 people, mostly students, in an overnight attack on a secondary school in restive Yobe state, a medical worker and residents said Saturday.
"We received 42 dead bodies of students and other staff of Government Secondary School (in) Mamudo last night. Some of them had gunshot wounds while many of them had burns and ruptured tissues," Haliru Aliyu of the Potiskum General Hospital told AFP.
Mamudo is some five kilometres from Potiskum, the commercial hub of Yobe State which has been a flashpoint in the Boko Haram insurgency in recent months.
"From accounts of teachers and other students who escaped the attack, the gunmen gathered their victims in a hostel and threw explosives and opened fire, leading to the death of 42," Aliyu said.
He said security personnel were combing the bushes around the school in search of students who were believed to have escaped with gunshot wounds.
"So far six students have been found and are now in the hospital being treated for gunshot wounds," he added.
A local resident who did not want to be named confirmed the attack.
"It was a gory sight. People who went to the hospital and saw the bodies shed tears. There were 42 bodies, most of them were students. Some of them had parts of their bodies blown off and badly burnt while others had gunshot wounds," he said.
He said the attack was believed to be a reprisal by the Boko Haram Islamists for the killing of 22 sect members during a military raid in the town of Dogon Kuka on Thursday.
Nigeria declared a state of emergency in three flashpoint states of Adamawa, Borno and Yobe in mid-May as it launched a major offensive to end the insurgency.
Violence linked to the Boko Haram insurgency has left some 3,600 people dead since 2009, including killings by the security forces.
Boko Haram which means "western education is evil" has killed hundreds of students in attacks on schools in the tense region in recent months