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Growing Cases Of Female Suicide Bombing


Zahra-u--pix-28 2 15

WHEN the Boko Haram insurgency erupted in the country some years ago, its membership comprised of males. Their killed leader and alleged founder of the sect in Nigeria, Mohammed Yusuf was a male. Since then, most members of the sect arrested and being tried were also males.

  Even Shekau that has been leading the sect’s onslaught against Nigerians is also a male. Perpetrating their devilish and nefarious attacks, the sect members do not spare females. Sometimes, they do not stop at killing them, they also abduct them as the case with the 230 Chibok school girls that are still in their captivity till date. 

  In recent times, the modus operandi of the Islamic sect which looked like a decoy to beat the military personnel has changed from the use of males for suicide bombing to females. The growing trend now is not only that female minors are being recruited by the sect members but most of the females are between the ages of 7 and 15.

  Nigeria recorded the first female suicide bomber on June 8, 2014 when a middle-aged woman arrived on a motorcycle at a military barracks in Gombe, detonating an explosive killing herself and a policeman.   

  On July 27, 2014 a teenager with an explosive device concealed under her veil blew herself up at a university campus in Kano, injuring five police officers. Also a young woman reportedly joined a kerosene queue at a filling station in Kano before her bomb detonated, killing three people and wounding 16 others on July 28 2014; same day, another teenager injured six people after exploding her device at a shopping centre in Kano.

 Also on November 12, 2014 a female suicide bomber lost her life while her partner in crime sustained serious injuries after unsuccessful attempt to bomb students in an auditorium at the Federal College of Education, Kontagora, Niger State. There was conflicting report on the number of victims. While the state government announced that only the female bomber died, eye witnesses said that some lives were lost.

  It would be recall that before the Niger State incident, the country was thrown into mourning Monday when a female suicide bomber detonated during morning assembly at Government Comprehensive Senior Science Secondary School Potiskum, Yobe state and killed 48 students and teachers while inflicting injuries on 79. The bomber was dressed in a school uniform, and entered the school before carrying out the attack.

  Just recently, a young female suicide bomber strapped with explosives killed five people and wounded dozens of others at a security checkpoint outside the global system communication (GSM) market in Potiskum Yobe State.

  Eyewitness accounts said that the girl refused to be checked at the gate to the market and an argument ensued, during which she let off the bomb, killing herself and five others, while many many other people were injured. Witnesses described the bomber as a “small girl”, estimating that she could not have been more than eight years old.

  On 11 January 2015, four people were killed and over 40 were injured at Kasuwar Jagwal GSM market after an attack by two female suicide bombers, one of whom appeared to be about 15 years old. The list is becoming endless, and the trend is on increase especially in Nigeria as the military has launched unprecedented onslaught against the insurgents in the Northeast states of Borno, Yobe and Adamawa.

  It seems that the trend is going global with the recent incidence involving three students from Bethnal Green Academy in East London namely Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16 and Amira Abase, 15, who left their school to Syria to marry members of the Islamic sect.     

  Parents of three runaway British ‘jihadi’ brides had begged them to come home. The police hunt for them has intensified in a bid to stop them crossing the Turkish border into Syria.

  In a statement Shamima’s family said: “We miss you terribly and are extremely worried about you. Please, if you hear this message, get in touch and let us know you are safe. We want you home with us. You belong at home with us.

  Syria is a dangerous place and we don’t want you to go there. Get in touch with the police and they will help to bring you home. You are not in any trouble.”

  They urged her not to join Isil, stating: “We understand that you have strong feelings and want to help those you believe are suffering in Syria. You can help from home, you don’t have to put yourself in danger. Please don’t cross the border. Please come home to us. Our Mum needs you home and is really worried. We are not mad at you, we love you.”

Kadiza’s family also begged their daughter to return home, saying they missed her terribly: “Our dearest Kadiza and the two friends accompanying you. We, together, sincerely pray and hope this message reaches you. We pray that no harm comes to you, and you are all safe and in good health. “In your absence, we, as a family, are feeling completely distressed and cannot make sense of why you left home.”

  The question on the lips of many is why is the trend growing fast and of what attraction for the females. Is it faith, money, poverty, upbringing, background, or idleness that is driving the female minors into engaging in the devilish act? To many the development is making the fight against terrorism or insurgency more complex and dicey for the security agents. There are some tendencies that many innocent people who may not be suspicious of these potential female bombers will easily fall prey to their antics at anytime. Many are of the view that lack of parental responsibility and greed is seriously responsible for the growing trend.         

  It could be recalled that on December 10, last year 14-year-old Nigerian girl who was arrested with explosives strapped to her body revealed that her parents volunteered her to take part in a suicide attack. The girl who was identified as Zahra’u Babangida was arrested in Kano following a double suicide bombing in a market that killed 10 people.

  She said her mother and father, both Boko Haram sympathisers, took her to an insurgent hideout in a forest near the town of Gidan Zana in Kano state.

She said one alleged militant leader asked her whether she knew what a suicide bombing was.

“They said, ‘Can you do it?’ I said no.

“They said, ‘You will go to heaven if you do it.’ I said ‘No I can’t.’ They said they would shoot me or throw me into a dungeon,” Zahra’u disclosed.

  Faced with the threat of death, Zahra’u said she finally agreed to take part in the attack but “never had any intention of doing it.”

Several days later, Zahra’u said, she and three other girls, all wearing explosives, were brought to the Kantin Kwari market by unidentified men.

  Zahra’u said she was injured when one of the girls detonated her bomb and then she fled the scene, ending up at a hospital on the outskirts of Kano where she was discovered to be carrying explosives.

  Since then nothing has been heard of Zahra’u’s case, but if her alleged confession was true, it is not farther from the truth that parents have a greater role to play in curbing the ugly trend. 

   A researcher with South Africa’s Institute for Security Studies, (ISS) Mr Martin Ewi once told the BBC, ‘that to use female suicide bombers is the most dramatic strategy that an organisation can use. It becomes easier to penetrate targets because we are less suspicious about women.”

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