Boko Haram's Latest Suicide Bomber Was A 10-Year-Old Girl, Marking An Unprecedented Tactic in the Group's Insurgency

An explosion in northern Nigeria on Saturday was the work of a Boko Haram suicide bomber, a girl of about 10-years-old, who detonated explosives hidden beneath her veil, killing at least 16 people and injuring 20 more in a congested market in the city of Maiduguri.

Following the noon bombing, a police source told Reuters:

The explosive devices were wrapped around her body and the girl looked no more than 10 years old.

The horrifying new tactic of using a child — possibly unprecedented in their insurrection — saw what could be their youngest suicide bomber ever carry out an attack in a city at the heart of the Boko Haram insurgency. The group, by far one of the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the world today — a rather remarkable feat, no doubt, considering the various extremist groups today that dominate the headlines for its brutality — has seen the use of a growing number of female suicide bombers, reported the New York Times, even as it augments its kidnappings of girls across northern Nigeria. One of Boko Haram's highest profile abductions was that over 200 Chibok girls last April who have yet to been returned, despite reports — vague as they may be — of governmental efforts to secure their release.

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A hospital official told the Times, on condition of anonymity, that the suicide bomber was a little girl, adding:

The body is beyond recognition, but from the face you can see it’s a young person. A young pretty girl.

The explosives went off as the girl was being searched at a security checkpoint at the market, a dark necessity in the reality of the beleagured city. It was unclear to many witnesses if the girl actually knew that she was carrying a timed bomb. Ashiru Mustapha, one of the people at the scene, told AFP:

The girl was about 10 years old and I doubt if she actually knew what was strapped to her body. In fact, she was searched at the entrance of the market and the metal detector indicated that she was carrying something. But sadly, the explosion went off before she was isolated.
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Boko Haram is also behind one of the deadliest attacks in Nigeria, as Amnesty International revealed that it carried out the massacre of over 2,000 people in Baga last week. A spokesman for a somewhat-ragtag group of civilians fighting the militants, Muhammad Abba Gava, told the Associated Press that its members have given up trying to count all the bodies.

Another police official told the Times that the group's new tactic of using a little girl as a suicide bomber was new — and troubling:

It’s something quite new, and it’s disturbing, using these young, young girls wearing hijabs. Now, one has to be suspicious of any lady wearing a hijab — whether it’s a young lady, or an old lady.

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