Nigeria is facing a rise in female teenage suicide bombers at the service of terror group Boko Haram.
Residents of northern Nigeria are more on edge than ever. On top of a year of unprecedented terror at the hands of Boko Haram, an increasing number of young girls are donning explosive devices and blowing themselves up in public places—all in the name of the terror group, known for its egregious crimes against Nigeria’s women.
On Wednesday, two young female suicide bombers detonated in a crowded market in Kano State. The police commissioner told a local news site that the terrorists donned hijabs and attempted to go into a bank, but were stopped. They then entered a busy textile market, and went into the public bathrooms, after which two blasts shook the area, injuring seven and killing six, including the bombers. Witnesses said the girls were in their late teens and had been accompanied by a man who left soon after the blast. That same day a 13-year-old girl was arrested with explosives hidden under her hijab after walking into a medical clinic.
Over the past eight months, there has been a disturbing spike in female suicide bombers and a rising body count to match. More than a dozen attacks have been carried out by women—with some attacks claiming up to 78 victims. This is a relatively new development: Boko Haram’s first female suicide bomber was a middle-aged woman who rode a motorcycle into military barracks and blew herself up at a checkpoint this June.
Since rising to power over the past five years, Boko Haram has killed more than 6,000 Nigerians. But now, the group has grown bolder and bloodier. The body count has doubled in the past two years thanks to brutal abductions, bombings, and militant raids on schools and law enforcement posts. Along with this violent growth, Boko Haram has increasingly targeted women. Now, there’s a twist: Females are being put into the action as perpetrators. Could these young women wrapped in explosives be some of the 300 schoolgirls kidnapped by the group last April?