Female Suicide Bombers on the Prowl

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Olukolade

The involvement of female suicide bombers in Boko Haram is raising a lot of concern that some of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls could have been indoctrinated to carry out dastardly acts

By Vincent Nzemeke  |  Aug. 11, 2014 @ 01:00 GMT

IT IS a worrisome development. The deadly act of suicide bombing, which was dominated by males, appears to be attracting the interest of their female counterparts. In the recent suicide bombings carried out by Boko Haram sect, three young ladies were said to have separately carried out the dastardly act at different locations. For instance, prior to the attack on St. Charles Catholic Church in Sabon Gari in Knao, on Sunday, July 27, a female suicide bomber was said to have blown herself to pieces while trying to attack the Ado Bayero University in the ancient city. Five persons were injured in that attack.

As if that was not bad enough, the next day, which was on Monday July 28, the attack at the Trade Fair complex along Zoo Road, Kano, close to a popular shopping mall, was said to have been carried out by another female suicide bomber. Six persons were injured in the attack.

According to Frank Mba, police public relation officer, when the lady bomber had tried to force her way into the trade fair complex, by was prevented security agents on the alert who asked her to surrender herself for a search. It was in the process that she detonated the bomb, which blew into pieces and caused various degrees of injuries on six other persons.

Promptly, Mba said that security forces cordoned off the scene while operatives were deployed to carry out both overt and covert operations with special teams carrying out sweeping raids in suspected terrorist hideouts. The police boss, however, urged residents to be vigilant and report suspicious movement to the police.

Early on the same Monday, a suspected female suicide bomber slipped into a crowd of people queuing to buy kerosene at the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, mega filling station, Hotoro Quarters, along Maiduguri Road, Kano, killing herself and three other persons. The attack occurred at 10:00am.

Mba who also confirmed the attack in a statement, said the fuel station would have been blown up but for the security barricade put in place by policemen on duty there. “It is instructive to note that the mega station did not go ablaze due to the security barricade put in place by the policemen on duty at the station. Such a situation would have clearly complicated the emergency response,” he stated.

He advised people to stay off the scene of the explosion as Police bomb disposal experts were deployed to comb the area for suspects. While assuring people that security operatives had been deployed to smoke out suspects, he also advised people to remain vigilant and report any suspicious person(s) or activities to security forces.

There was a similar orgy tale of attacks in Adamawa State during the festivities as members of the Boko Haram sect stormed some villages, killings scores of people and setting buildings of fire.

But the major source of concern many Nigerians on Facebook, Twitter and some other social media sites is the emergence of female suicide bombers. In the social medial, Nigerians feared that the sudden emergence of young girls as suicide bombers is a proof that Boko Haram may have indoctrinated some of the school girls it abducted in Chibok, Borno State on April 14, to carry out some of the attacks.

Indeed, the recent attacks of female bombers in Kano were not the first time the dreaded Boko Haram sect would be using young girls as suicide bombers. On June 9, a female suicide bomber killed herself and a soldier close to the Quarter-guard of the 301 Battalion of Nigerian Army in Gombe, Gombe State.

Reports from the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, said the female bomber was riding on a motorcycle and on approaching the gate of the military facility, hugged a soldier. This, it said, led to a bomb concealed in her hijab (scarf) to explode, killing both of them.

Confirming the report, Chris Olukolade, a major-general and director of defence information, said in a statement that : “Troops mounting a security check point at a barrack entrance in Gombe this morning intercepted a lady suicide bomber while she was attempting to gain entry into the barracks.

“The lady suicide bomber who had primed herself with improvised explosive devices concealed under her Hijjab was intercepted when troops acting on intelligence report indicating that a terrorist group was plotting to attack barracks around Gombe using female suicide bombers, halted her and as she was being searched the bomb detonated killing the lady. Unfortunately, one of the troops conducting the search also died while another was wounded in the explosion.”

After the Gombe incident, there was another blast at Creek Road, Apapa Lagos, which killed three people and was believed to have been executed by a female suicide bomber. The development apparently forced the military to embark on fresh measure to deal with the challenge. On July 4, 2014, the military announced that it had arrested three female suspects believed to be the arrowheads of Boko Haram’s recruitment of young ladies.

According to the an army statement signed by Onyema Nwachukwu, a colonel, the suspects were named as Hafsat Usman Bako, Zainab Idris and Aisha Abubakar who were intercepted while travelling to Madagali from where they were to transit to the forest to reunite with their cohorts. “Investigations revealed that the suspects, led by Hafsat Bako, have the mission to recruit members into the female wing as well as conduct espionage for the group. Hafsat’s link with the terrorists group had earlier been a subject of investigation in 2012, when security agents on a manhunt for one Usman Bako, her husband who was identified as a terrorist, stormed their residence in Jimeta.

“This resulted in the discovery of an AK 47 rifle and two loaded magazines.   Though Usman Bako later died in an encounter with troops in Sokoto where he had relocated to continue his terrorist activities, Hafsat continued with the terror group specialising in surreptitious recruitment of members into their fold.” According to the military, the trio suspects had been luring ladies especially widows and young girls by enticing them with male suitors who were mainly members of their terror group for marriage. Before the arrest, the suspects were said to on a mission to take additional briefing from the leadership of Boko Haram.

Reacting to the new trend by the terrorist group, President Goodluck Jonathan said “the deployment of young women as suicide bombers represents an utter disregard for the dignity of the female gender as well as a wicked exploitation of the girl-child.”

Based on the current reality, the army military has directed that all women dressed in religious apparels would also now be subject to thorough search before being allowed into public places. Olajide Olaleye, a brigadier-general and director, Army Information, said on a radio programme in Abuja recently said that female soldiers would now be posted to such public places to search women. “Instead of moving freely like it used to be, we are deploying female soldiers to public places and women will have to undergo serious scrutiny,” Olajide said.

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