Maiduguri — Boko Haram-linked attacks on primary and secondary schools in Maiduguri over the past two weeks have forced 10,000 pupils to stay away from the classrooms.
At least 12 public and private schools were set on fire in attacks launched mostly under the cover of the night in the city, which has been plagued by violence for nearly two years.
The first schools to be attacked about two weeks ago were Budun Primary School and Kulo Gomna Primary School.
Then Abbaganaram Primary School was set ablaze days later, while private school Maiduguri Experimental School was destroyed the following day.
On Tuesday, the Gomari Costain was targeted and set ablaze.
The onslaught continued on Wednesday and Thursday when five more schools were burnt in what appeared to be coordinated attacks.
Gwange 1 Primary School was burnt on Wednesday. Also, Success Private Secondary School owned by a Ghanaian was burnt when gunmen stormed the premises with old tyres and petrol. Sunshine Private School was similarly torched.
Boko Haram, whose name in Hausa means "Western education is prohibited", claimed responsibility for attacking the schools, allegedly because security men were raiding local Islamic schools.
Since its emergence, the sect made it clear that its ideology was opposed to Western education and the democratic system of government. But it has restricted its attacks largely to state security institutions, until late last year when it widened its targets.
Formal schools are the latest in the ever-widening list of targets for Boko Haram.
No official of the state primary education board was willing to comment for this story.
But teachers in the affected schools gave separate estimates of students affected by the closures as a result of the attacks.
They said over 10,000 pupils have been forced to remain at home as nearly all classrooms in the affected schools have been razed.
"Thousands of children are out of school," Jummai Sam, a teacher, told Daily Trust. "The implication is that many of them would be roaming the streets and at the end of the day, they would be forced to engage in social vices which will not augur well for the society."
Spokesmen of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Borno State, Lieutenant Colonel Mohammed Hassan said, "Residents must cooperate with security agents to end this carnage."