DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A machete-wielding attacker killed two children and gravely wounded two others at a primary school in northeast Nigeria, the United Nations said on Friday, in the first school attack in two years in the region home to Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
The attack in the town of Kwaya Kusar, in Borno state, came after a period of relative stability there and marks a setback as parents are now too afraid to send their children to school again, the U.N. children’s agency UNICEF said.
It was not clear whether the assailant, who has been apprehended, was affiliated with Boko Haram, UNICEF said.
But the militant group, whose name in the Hausa language means “Western Education is Forbidden”, has frequently targeted schools and killed hundreds of students and teachers during its eight-year insurgency in Nigeria, Niger, Cameroon and Chad.
In their most publicized raid the militants abducted more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok, another town in Borno state, in April 2014. Around half of the girls have been released or found.
The attack on Thursday morning was the first to target a school in northeast Nigeria since 2015, UNICEF said.
“There’s been an outcry. Parents have been saying they will not send their children to school again,” Samuel Manyok, UNICEF child protection officer, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
The attack happened on Thursday morning when a man with a machete entered the schoolyard and tried to talk to some of the children, Manyok said.
When a female schoolteacher confronted him, he attacked, badly injuring her and killing two young boys before local youths intervened to stop him, he said.
Another man believed to be planning a similar attack was also arrested in the town that day, Manyok added.
The school has been closed until further notice.
Some teachers in the Lake Chad region have been trained to protect children from militant attacks under a program run by UNICEF and the European Union.
Although schools are particularly vulnerable to bombings, attacks and abductions by Boko Haram many lack detailed safety plans, UNICEF has said.
Reporting by Nellie Peyton; Editing by Ros Russell; Please credit Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, trafficking, property rights, and climate change. Visit www.trust.org