Boko Haram Changes Tactics But Targets Remain The SameAugust 1, 2014 in Nigeria
In what appears to be a new tactic that is being deployed by Boko Haram, over the past few days four female suicide bombers have carried out a series of attacks in Nigeria’s second largest city.
On Wednesday, a female suicide bomber killed six people at a college campus in the city of Kano. According to eyewitnesses, at about 2:30PM (1330 GMT), an assailant blew herself up at a noticeboard on the campus of the Kano Polytechnic College. Government spokesman Mike Omeri confirmed the attack, disclosing that six people were killed and six others were injured. He also confirmed that a female suicide bomber, whose age was not immediately known, was responsible for the attack.
This is the fourth incident of a female bomber carrying out an attack in northern Nigeria in the past several days. On Sunday, a young woman injured five police officers after she blew herself up at another campus in the city. The following day, two young women, believed to be in their late teens or early 20’s, separately attacked a petrol station and a shopping centre. The two attacks killed at least three people and injured thirteen others.
The latest violence also comes as the government announced Wednesday that security officials arrested a 10-year-old girl who had explosives strapped to her chest. On Tuesday, security forces disclosed that they had stopped a car in Kano’s neighbouring state of Katsina, arresting three suspected Boko Haram members. Government spokesman Mike Omeri has disclosed that the group included one male and two girls, aged 18 and 10, adding that while the older two attempted to flee the scene, the “10-year-old…was discovered to have been strapped with an explosive belt.”
While this new tactic of deploying young women and girls is likely being used by the militant group as a means of lowering their profile to prevent being targeted by security officials, the method is not new as international terrorist organizations have in the past used female suicide bombers as women typically raise minimal suspicions. Furthermore, while Boko Haram’s tactics are evolving, the group’s targets remain the same and highlight the group’s anti-Western views.
The change in Boko Haram’s tactics demonstrates the militant group’s continuing threat and ability to transform to the altering security conditions. With the on going military operations, launched in May last year, Boko Haram has adapted itself to Nigerian military bombings and operations by pushing themselves out of the urban city centres in northern Nigeria and into the remote villages and areas, including along Nigeria’s border with Cameroon. This latest tactic appears to be a new way in which the militant group can continue carrying out their attacks with minimal detection while maintaining their grip on fear within Nigeria’s society.
The use of female suicide bomber will likely spur further outrage as the country continues to be unable to contain the violence. While it currently remains unclear whether the group is recruiting female bombers, or forcing kidnapped girls to carry out suicide missions, officials in Nigeria fear that Boko Haram may be using those girls who were abducted during a raid in April on a boarding school in Chibok.