Nigeria suffered the latest in a string of Boko Haram-affiliated suicide bombings on Tuesday, as a 12-year-old girl detonated herself in the middle of a market in northern Yobe state, killing ten and injuring dozens.
The bombing occurred in Wagir village, a small town in the state that has been plagued by Boko Haram attacks. While no official Boko Haram representatives have claimed responsibility for the attack, the group is widely believed to be the culprits, as its use of child suicide bombers has become increasingly common. Eyewitnesses who saw the girl before the explosion and noted that she appeared to “head straight to the grain section,” looking to detonate her bomb nearest the largest crowd of people, confirmed the girl’s age to AFP.
The Yobe State bombing follows a similar attack by two teen girls, the elder believed to be about 17, in Borno State, the northeast corner of Nigeria and home state of Boko Haram. That attack killed between 10 and 30 people, even though only one of the girls successfully detonated the bomb near victims; the other killed herself too far from others to have any impact.
While unconfirmed Boko Haram bombings have been increasing in frequency in the past two weeks, the jihadists have not merely left their work to teen girls; they have spread the scope of their attacks out of Nigeria into Niger and Chad. On Monday and Tuesday, Boko Haram terrorists attacked multiple villages on the border between Niger and Nigeria, killing at least 42 people. Last week, a bombing in Chad’s capital, N’Djamena, was attributed to Boko Haram, and has triggered a nationwide ban on burqas and police efforts to round up foreigners, homeless people, and anyone suspected of illicit activity.
Niger has responded with a strong military push near the Nigerian border, including ground and air operations. Military officials announced they had killed 15 Boko Haram terrorists and arrested 20 more between June 18 and 23 this week.
The AFP notes that Boko Haram has killed almost 250 people since Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari took office at the end of May. Buhari, who won the nation’s presidency on a campaign vowing to eliminate the Islamic State subgroup from Nigeria, announced Thursday he would travel to Washington, D.C., on July 20 to discuss the eradication of Boko Haram with President Barack Obama. “The visit will underscore the United States’ … commitment to strengthening and expanding our partnership with Nigeria’s new government,” according to a White House statement.
While the nation remains focused on fighting Boko Haram in the northeast, an article in Nigeria’s Daily Trust newspaper reports that supporters of Boko Haram in Nigeria’s northwest have established their own jihadist sect, the Yanlabaiku, and currently boasts 100 members in Kebbi state, the northwest tip of Nigeria. “Daily Trust gathered reliably from security sources in the state that the group’s leaders were part of the group that was based in Niger State before it was disbanded by government,” the newspaper notes.