Two schoolgirls carried out simultaneous suicide bombings in the Nigerian town of Madagali. The attacks on a crowded market left at least 56 people killed and dozens wounded.
The attacks bore the marking of the Islamist terror organization Boko Haram, known for targeting civilians in northeast Nigeria as well as in neighboring Cameroon and Niger.
Although attacks by the group have been less frequent in recent months as the Nigerian army has been attempting a push back to its original stronghold in the enormous Sambia forest, this latest attack shows the group – which pledged its allegiance to Islamic State – is far from defeated.
Attacks by school girls are one of the group’s latest and most sinister operational surprises. The girls, many of them kidnapped by the group, will volunteer for such missions as a way to end their horrific lives under captivity, which include relentless hunger and sexual abuse.
One girl, 16, identified only as Fati, who was kidnapped from her village but managed to escape, told CNN, “They came to us to pick us. They would ask, ‘Who wants to be a suicide bomber?’ The girls would shout, ‘me, me, me.’ They were fighting to do the suicide bombings.
“It was just because they want to run away from Boko Haram. If they give them a suicide bomb, then maybe they would meet soldiers, tell them, ‘I have a bomb on me’ and they could remove the bomb. They can run away.”
Another girl, speaking at a news conference organized by the police, told how her parents took her to Boko Haram to be a suicide bomber. She said she had no choice but to agree to the mission, even though she never intended to follow through with it. The girl was injured when another girl detonated her bomb and ended up at a hospital, where personnel discovered her own bomb.
Boko Haram has, to date, been responsible for killing 15,000 people and causing more than two million to flee their homes.