The African terrorist group Boko Haram has been using children as suicide bombers as a new strategy against Western Africa. Some of them are as young as 8 years old. In 2014, according to United Nations, four children were used in such attacks. As of last year, 44 children have been used in suicide bombings. More than three quarters of these are girls.
A UNICEF report says that 20% of Boko Haram´s suicide bombers have been children. The group sends little kids to crowded places such as markets and religious centers, sometimes without the child knowing, to explode themselves. The strategy is based on the fact that children as less likely to be viewed as suspects.
Cameroon alone, says the UNICEF report has witnessed 21 child suicide attacks, Nigeria has 17, and Chad records 2.
“Let us be clear: These children are victims, not perpetrators,” Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF’s regional director for West and Central Africa, said in a statement. “Deceiving children and forcing them to carry out deadly acts has been one of the most horrific aspects of the violence in Nigeria and in neighboring countries.”
Other conflict zones use young suicide bombers but the incidences of Boko Haram are simply alarming. Some of these children are abducted from their homes and they take some time to be identified after the attack.
More than 1.3 million children have lost their homes due to Boko Haram´s insurgency. There are almost a million of them with no access to education since the Nigerian militants have taken over schools as bases.
The purpose of the militant group is to impose their extremist version of Islam. Their primary target is education, which has cost the lives of 611 teachers since 2009 and the closing of over 2,000 schools. According to UNICEF, the world has “barely noticed” how the Boko Haram conflict has brought the education of over one million children to nothing.