In a major tactical shift in its terror operations, the radical Islamists of the Boko Haram jihadist group have multiplied the number of women and girls deployed as suicide bombers in an effort to elude detection by security officials.
In the first three-and-a-half months of 2017, radical Islamists have deployed at least 27 females in suicide attacks in Nigeria and Cameroon, whereas in 2016, the female suicide bombings totaled 29 for the entire year. At this pace, Boko Haram will quadruple the number of young women—many of them just girls—coerced into suicide attacks on behalf of the terror group.
As Breitbart News reported last week, the surge in female bombers has been accompanied by a similarly sharp rise in the use of children as suicide bombers, with Boko Haram employing underage assailants three times as often as during the same period in 2016.
“This is the worst possible use of children in conflict,” UNICEF officials said in a report on the topic, “Silent Shame: Bringing Out the Voices of Children Caught in the Lake Chad Crises.” Some 117 such child suicide attacks have occurred in the past three years “across Nigeria, Chad, Niger and Cameroon,” the report found.
The shift toward women and children as instruments of suicide assaults represents the implementation of a strategic measure already envisioned in 2015, when Boko Haram began experimenting more regularly with female bombers.
“In the beginning Boko Haram militias arrived with guns or knives, killed and left,” said Mahamat Ahmat, head of security of the refugee camp Dar es Salaam at the time. “For weeks now, they have been carrying out suicide bombings, often using women and girls.”
Ahmat reported that the jihadists were using women and girls as kamikazes to more easily escape the notice of military controls that had checkpoints throughout the area. “Women and girls wear flowing garments and it is harder to detect whether they are carrying explosives underneath, and besides people tend to be less suspicious of them,” he said.
In October, 2015, three young female suicide bombers blew up between 40-60 worshippers at a mosque in northeastern Nigeria. The three girls attacked simultaneously on the outskirts of Maiduguri, the capital of northeast Borno state.
Two female bombers similarly killed 31 people in a Nigerian market in late 2016, through the coordinated detonation of IEDs (improvised explosive devices).
As security measures have grown tighter, the use of children and women as assailants has increased as well. More and more desperate to avoid detection, female bombers have even begun carrying their infant children when carrying out attacks.
This past January, two suicide bombers who carried out an attack at a market in Madagali, in the eastern state of Adamawa, had babies strapped to their backs. The women were able to pass a security checkpoint and were mistaken for civilians because they were carrying infants.