Levels of tension in Nigeria from the seemingly-ubiquitous threat of Boko Haram's clandestine suicide bombing operators appear to have reached its boiling point after a horrific incident in the city of Bauchi on Sunday, where a Nigerian mob killed a suspected girl suicide bomber at a market in the most brutal of manners.
According to witnesses, two teenage girls arrived at Muda Lawal, Bauchi's biggest market, and refused to be searched at the gate (security precautions have been stationed around markets in the country after a spate of Boko Haram-related suicide bombing incidents). A yam seller, Mohd Adamu, told the Associated Press that their refusal aroused intense suspicion. After finding two bottles strapped to one of them, they proceeded to beat her to death, put a fuel-soaked tire on her body, and set it on fire. The other girl was arrested.
Police said the girl was dead before they arrived at the scene, and another eyewitness told BBC News:
When her hijab was raised over her head two bottles were found strapped to her waist and the crowd descended on the young woman.
But the AP reported that it was questionable as to whether the girl was actually a suicide bomber, because no bombs were detonated when the horde attacked her. Police Deputy Superintendent Mohammad Haruna said that the girl's death was the result of "mob action carried out by an irate crowd."
The incident points to the degree of panic of a population enveloped in the fear of Boko Haram and its increasing attacks on Nigerian communities. Considered among the deadliest terrorist organizations in the world, the religious militant group is responsible for more than five thousand deaths and the displacement of over three-hundred thousand people.
Its official name, Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati Wal-Jihad, means "People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad" in Arabic, but the group is more widely known as Boko Haram, translated from the local Hausa language as "Western education is a sin." The group is involved in a violent and unrelenting insurgency in the northern part of Nigeria in a bid to overthrow the government and establish an Islamic state. Last year, Boko Haram kidnapped over 200 girls from Chibok, leading to strong international condemnation.
The group has a penchant for using female suicide bombers — some possibly even as young as seven — particularly since it stepped up such attacks in the past year. There have been reports of suspicion that many younger girls were coerced into carrying out strikes, and some have questioned whether these children even have the ability to provide consent to such acts of violence.