The attack began shortly after midnight and targeted an agricultural college in northeastern Nigeria. The attack is believed to be linked to Boko Haram, a terrorist group opposed to Western education and seeking to set up an Islamist state.
Suspected Islamic extremists attacked an agricultural college in the dead of night, gunning down dozens of students as they slept in dormitories and torching classrooms in an ongoing Islamic uprising in northeast Nigeria, the school's provost said.
As many as 50 students may have been killed in the attack that began at about 1 a.m. Sunday in rural Gujba, Provost Molima Idi Mato of the Yobe State College of Agriculture, told The Associated Press.
"They attacked our students while they were sleeping in their hostels, they opened fire at them," he said.
He said he could not give an exact death toll as security forces still are recovering bodies.
The Nigerian military has collected 42 bodies and transported 18 injured students to Damaturu Specialist Hospital, said a military intelligence official, who insisted on anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the press.
The school's other 1,000 enrolled students have fled the college that is about 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of the scene of similar school attacks around Damaturu town, said provost Mato.
He said there were no security forces stationed at the college despite government assurances that they would be deployed. The state commissioner for education, Mohammmed Lamin, called a news conference two weeks ago urging all schools to reopen and promising protection from soldiers and police.
Most schools in the area closed after militants on July 6 killed 29 pupils and a teacher, burning some alive in their hostels, at Mamudo outside Damaturu.
Northeastern Nigeria is under a military state of emergency to battle an Islamic uprising prosecuted by Boko Haram militants who have killed more than 1,700 people since 2010 in their quest for an Islamic state. Boko Haram means Western education is forbidden in the local Hausa language.
Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau last week published a video to prove he is alive and prove false military claims that they might have killed him in an ongoing crackdown.
Government and security officials claim they are winning their war on terror in the northeast but Sunday's attack and others belie those assurances.