Nigerian forces have arrested two suspected members of Boko Haram who were traveling with a 10-year-old girl who had explosives strapped to her, a government official said Wednesday.
Government spokesman Mike Omeri told Reuters the suspects were apprehended after forces stopped their Honda CRV in the country’s northern state of Katsina.
“Ten-year-old Hadiza was discovered to have been strapped with an explosive belt and, immediately, Iliya and Zainab made attempt to escape with the car, but were later blocked by other concerned Nigerians and subsequently arrested,” Omeri said.
Boko Haram is an extremist Muslim group seeking to impose Shariah law in Nigeria. The group is blamed for the April kidnapping of over 200 teenage girls in the country and has reportedly killed thousands during its five-year-long insurgency.
The discovery of the girl in Katsina follows in the wake of recent bombings in Nigeria believed to have been perpetrated by young girls wearing explosives.
The Washington Post reported earlier this week that female bombers had blown themselves up in at least three recent attacks that killed ten people.
The first bombing occurred Wednesday of last week when a woman detonated a hidden bomb while on a college campus in the city of Kano, killing herself and five others. Four days later a 15-year-old girl blew herself up at a temporary university site with no other deaths. Another killed herself and three other women after detonating a bomb outside of a fuel station where the women were waiting to purchase kerosene.
No group has taken credit for the attacks but experts say they bear the marks of other bombings perpetrated by Boko Haram.
Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan’s office released a statement Monday that denounced the attacks and said the use of female bombers by the group was “a new low in the inhuman campaign.”
“The president describes as shocking, callous and reprehensible the multiple bomb blasts that occurred in Kano within 24 hours,” the statement read.
Boko Haram has escalated its attacks this year, killing thousands in random raids on rural villages. The group, although splintered into many factions, opposes the current Nigerian government and all aspects of Western culture including democracy and secular education.
In June the group claimed responsibility for an attack in the port city of Lagos in which a female suicide bomber drove her car alongside a fuel tanker and detonated her bomb, killing several. The Los Angeles Times reports the attack appeared to have been coordinated with another bombing at a shopping mall that killed 21 people.
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