Suspected Islamist militants attacked a school on Tuesday and killed 43 people in north-eastern Nigeria, local officials and hospital sources said.

More than 50 gunmen thought to belong to the Boko Haram group stormed the school in Buni Yadi in Yobe state in the early morning, a member of the school committee said.

The attackers kicked open the doors of buildings where students were sleeping. They slit the throats of many of them, avoiding the use of firearms in order not to attract the attention of security personnel manning a checkpoint nearby.

The attackers also abducted some of the students before setting school buildings on fire and escaping.

“Some of the students were burned beyond recognition,” state police commissioner Sanusi Rufai said.

Sources at a hospital in Yobe capital Damaturu confirmed that 43 bodies had been deposited in the morgue. It was not clear how many of them were students and staff.

Boko Haram, whose name means Western Education Is Sinful, has frequently attacked schools, including several in Yobe state.

The group has been active in the Muslim north of the West African country, carrying out attacks aimed primarily at Christians.

Since 2009, more than 1,500 people have been killed in the violence.

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