Two Boko Haram Female Suicide Bombers Kill Three Civilians in Cameroon

Reinnier KAZE/AFP/Getty Images
Reinnier KAZE/AFP/Getty Images

In a kamikaze-style attack, two young female suicide bombers belonging to the jihadist group Boko Haram killed three Nigerians Monday in a town in northern Cameroon.

A local government source said that the bombers, aged between 13 and 15 years, attacked a truck full of refugees in Fotokol, a town in the far north of Cameroon on the Nigerian border. The first bomb exploded during a security check, and the second explosion occurred either because the woman detonated it or because she was shot by Cameroon soldiers, the source said.

The bombing took place near a mosque, and military sources said that they suspected the bombers’ target was the mosque. Alternate reports have claimed, in fact, that one of the girls detonated her explosive vest within the mosque itself and that the other was shot by armed security forces outside.

The attacks are the latest in a string of suicide assaults by the ISIS-affiliated Boko Haram group, often employing young girls, and occurred just 24 hours after two suicide bombers killed two and injured 14 more across the border in the Chadian town of Ngouboua.

“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 Salam. “For weeks now, they have been carrying out suicide bombings, often using women and girls.”

Ahmat said that the jihadists use women and girls as kamikazes to more easily elude military controls that have 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.

Less than a month ago, 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.

Although the Boko Haram stronghold is in northern Nigeria, in the past year, they have extended their incursions beyond Nigerian borders, carrying out attacks in Chad, Niger, Benin, and Cameroon. The affected countries formed a coordinated regional force of 8,700 soldiers last year to repel the Islamists.

Monday’s attack came just after Chad decided to withdraw the 5,000 Army troops it had deployed in northern Cameroon to make way for a regional force.

Since February, Boko Haram militants have carried out more than 30 attacks and bombings in Chad alone.

Boko Haram continues to commit attacks and suicide bombings at a steady pace, despite the promise of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to finish them off before the end of the year.

Boko Haram was founded in 2002 in the Nigerian city of Maiduguri, with the intent of establishing an Islamist state in northeastern Nigeria. The group has waged a six-year campaign of terrorism and violence, killing thousands and displacing another two million in the process.