Girls and teachers escape as Boko Haram gunmen attack Nigerian school

Students and teachers fled for their lives when Boko Haram fighters attacked a girls' boarding school in Nigeria.

In scenes eerily similar to the Chibok kidnapping of more than 200 girls four years ago, a convoy of fighters descended on a village in Yobe state late yesterday.

"When they stormed the village they began shooting and setting off explosives," said resident Sheriff Aisami.

"This drew the attention of the girls in the Government Girls Secondary School, so the girls and the teachers were able to escape before the attackers got into the school," he told the AFP news agency.

When the Boko Haram fighters got to the school, they found it empty - but they looted it anyway.

The attack happened in the early evening in Dapchi village in the Bursari area of Yobe state, which is in the conflict-torn northeast of Nigeria.

A teacher who escaped said the gunmen stormed the school around 7pm through the eastern part of the town.

He said: "They shot sporadically and forced the school food store opened. We and the students ran into the bush for safety."

Yobe's police commissioner Abdulmaliki Sunmonu confirmed the attack.

A member of a local civilian militia that tackles Boko Haram said: "Military jets were deployed and are in pursuit."

He added: "Obviously the attack was meant to abduct schoolgirls but luckily they found none of the girls as they were taken away by teachers before they arrived."

The Chibok kidnappings shocked the world in April 2014. A total of 276 students were seized from the Government Girls Secondary School in the remote town in Borno state.

Fifty-seven escaped in the immediate aftermath. Since May 2016, a further 107 have escaped, been found or released after government talks with the jihadists, leaving 112 still in captivity.

Last week Haruna Yahaya became the first person to be convicted in relation to the mass abduction. The 35-year-old was jailed for 15 years. Days later, he was given a second 15-year sentence - to be served consecutively.

The Boko Haram insurgency in Nigeria has left at least 20,000 dead and made over 2.6 million more homeless since 2009.

The group has consistently attacked education. Almost 1400 schools have been destroyed, over 2295 teachers killed and three million children need emergency support on education.