Survivors said that the assailants arrived on the campus of the Federal Government College of Buni Yadi in 11 Toyota Hilux pickups, a government-run secondary school similar to others that Islamist group Boko Haram has targeted in the past.
All the victims were teenage boys and 11 others were seriously injured. Most of the school was burned to the ground.
Teachers at the school in Buni Yadi said the gunmen gathered the female students together before telling them to go away and get married and to abandon their education.
Earlier this month, gunmen from Boko Haram surrounded a Christian village in Borno province along the border of Cameroon and opened fire before moving through the village and torching homes. That attack on Izge village was believed to have killed 90 people.
Boko Haram has carried out terrorist attacks near Nigeria's capital, including a January 2012 series of bombings on police stations and government offices in the northern Nigerian city of Kano that killed more than 160 people in 2012. The terrorist group has also carried out intermittent bombings and jailbreaks in the country's interior and capital city of Abuja.
Despite launching a military counteroffensive against Boko Haram strongholds in northern Nigeria, President Goodluck Jonathan has come under criticism for his government's inability to quell the frequent Boko Haram attacks against civilians. The stated purpose of Boko Haram [who's name roughly translates to 'Western Education is Forbidden'- NANESB!] is to overthrow the secular government seated in the predominantly Christian center of the nation and impose Islamic shari'a law throughout the country.