Boko Haram became an international target when the terrorist group abducted hundreds of young girls last year, and now the group appears to be forcing the adolescents to serve as suicide bombers.
There have been three recent suicide bombings carried out by girls as young as 10, indicating to local experts that the Nigerian terrorist group is forcing the kidnapped children into the bombings. It is not clear if the girls were aware that they were suicide bombers, and the explosives may have been detonated remotely.
“Using children to carry and detonate explosives is not a new tactic for Boko Haram, but it is an intensification. Boko Haram has been abducting and conscripting children and young men and women for a long period for various purposes — they will be seen by the movement as expendable resources,” said Elizabeth Donnelly, assistant head of the Africa program at London’s Chatham House think tank.
The group, whose name translates to “Western education is forbidden,” is known for a spate of terrorist attacks against schools. Like ISIS in the Middle East, Boko Haram aims to put in place a strict Islamic rule across Nigeria.
Peter Pham, director of the Africa Center at the Atlantic Council, said the group has been known for their ruthless attacks and disregard for women and children.
“Young women who are abducted, it has been suggested that they might be used as wives. But it’s certainly possible they could be used as bombers… These girls just do not matter to them… They are disposable bodies.”
Boko Haram has ramped up its terrorist attacks, including a nine-day stretch that left more than 2,000 people dead. The group attacked a number of villages, killing people who tried to hide, as well as women, children, and residents too old or sick to escape.
“If reports that the town was largely razed to the ground and that hundreds or even as many as 2,000 civilians were killed are true, this marks a disturbing and bloody escalation of Boko Haram’s ongoing onslaught,” said Daniel Eyre, Nigeria researcher for Amnesty International.
Experts believe that Boko Haram may have more attacks planned, including more suicide bombings using the kidnapped girls to deliver explosives.