Nigeria’s Boko Haram militants are gradually using more children for suicide bombings, as reported by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). The militant group is using more children to detonate bombs and they are mostly young girls.
One of every five suicide bombers used by Boko Haram is a child, the UNICEF report stated. The militant group is carrying out all sorts of cruelties to children ranging from murders, abduction, coerced marriages, forced suicide bombings, and slavery.
These children used for suicide bombings, some as young as eight years old, has spread beyond the country’s border. They hide the explosives under their clothes or baskets, reported AlJazeera.
“The use of children, especially girls, as so-called suicide bombers has become a defining and alarming feature of this conflict. It’s basically turning the children against their own communities by strapping bombs around their bodies,” said Laurent Duvillier, regional spokesman for UNICEF.
In January, female suicide bombers attacked a mosque in Kolofata, northern Cameroon, killing around 10 people. The same incident happened at a mosque in Nguetchewe village also in Cameroon. This time, the suicide bomber was a boy. Meanwhile, fifty-eight people were killed in Dikwa, Nigeria by two female suicide bombers in February.
Abubakar Shekau, the Boko Haram leader, announced in April 2014 that 276 school girls were abducted from Borno as they would be sold for slavery. That was the beginning of the groups increasing cruelty on children, as reported by Los Angeles Times.
The UNICEF report said, “the use of children especially girls, as suicide bombers has become one of the defining and alarming features of the conflict.”
The report also confirmed that there were 44 suicide bombings in West Africa in 2015.
Young girls are the “best” or most suitable suicide bombers because of the attire females wear in the region. Women and girls wear loose gowns, making it very easy to hide the bomb. Laurent Duvillier informed that some of these young girls did not even know that they were carrying bombs as most of the time they were detonated remotely.
Boko Haram is struggling to establish an Islamic state in Nigeria and also pledged their allegiance to the IS last year. Military forces from Nigeria and neighbouring countries have freed thousands of women and girls who were abducted for sexual slavery in the past few months.
Nigerian spokesperson for UNICEF Doune Porter said that these women and children could not be called suicide bombers as mostly they were forced to carry out these attacks. Porter noted that girls who refused to marry Boko Haram fighters are forced to commit these acts.
Reports also stated there that IS is already training 400 Yazidi children as suicide bombers.