Boko Haram Recruited Little Girls as Suicide Bombers

All the news that’s fit to fix on Sunday, Jan. 11.

Nigerian children at a National Youth Service Corps camp. (Photo: Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Jan 11, 2015· 2 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

On Saturday, a bomb exploded in a bustling northern Nigeria market, killing as many as 20 people and injuring several more. The culprit: a 10-year-old girl, who hid the explosives under her veil. She is believed to have been recruited by Boko Haram, making her one of the militant Islamist group’s youngest suicide bombers ever.

“It’s something quite new, and it’s disturbing, using these young, young girls wearing hijabs,” a top police official in Nigeria’s capital, Abuja, anonymously told The New York Times.

Some witnesses to the attack suggest that the girl may not have known she was carrying a timed bomb, which reportedly tore her body in two.

“Now, one has to be suspicious of any lady wearing a hijab—whether it’s a young lady or an old lady,” said the police official, warning that Boko Haram’s unprecedented new tactic could result in more discrimination against Muslim women who wear the religious head coverings.

In October, a Nigerian court in Lagos upheld a ban of hijabs in primary and secondary schools, a decision that the Muslim Students’ Society of Nigeria called “shameful.”

Saturday’s attack in the market comes in the wake of a series of northeast Nigeria massacres, including one in Baga that Amnesty International called Boko Haram's “deadliest” yet. The terrorist group has a history of abducting girls across northeast Nigeria, including the 276 boarding school girls whose April kidnapping prompted First Lady Michelle Obama’s viral hashtag #bringbackourgirls. All but 57 of those girls are still in captivity.

It’s not uncommon for Boko Haram to employ women as suicide bombers, but hiring a child to kill appears to be a terrible new low in the insurgency.

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