Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday called a massacre of 40 people in a student housing area "sad and shocking" while directing security agencies to find the perpetrators, his spokesman said.
"The president described the incident as tragic, sad and shocking," Reuben Abati told journalists.
"He has directed security agencies to investigate the matter and get to the root because this kind of incident where people are called out and shot is really shocking."
Nigerian soldiers moved house to house on Wednesday in an urgent bid to hunt down those responsible for the massacre, with victims shot or their throats slit.
The raid in the early hours of Tuesday near a polytechnic university shook the town of Mubi, located in Nigeria's volatile northeast, where Islamist extremist group Boko Haram has carried out scores of previous attacks.
Last week in Mubi, Nigeria's military conducted a high-profile raid targeting the group, killing a senior Boko Haram figure and arresting 156 suspected members.
Motives for the gruesome off-campus attack however remained unclear, with some officials suggesting the massacre may have been linked to a recent student election.