Friday, December 26, 2014
A 13-year-old Nigerian girl said that her father handed her over to Islamist militants to become a suicide bomber, but she fled as two other girls detonated their explosives at a market earlier in December 2014
The girl described her forced role in the deadly attack. Her father, she said, joined Boko Haram and took his wife and daughter to a village in the forest in Bauchi state in northern Nigeria. "My father took us to the bush, which was surrounded by gunmen," she said. "I was asked if I wanted to go to heaven, when I answered, they said I have to go for a suicide mission and if I attempted to run they would kill me." The girl and two others were taken by Boko Haram militants to Nigeria's second most populous city, Kano, and were dressed with explosive-laden devices. The other girls set off hidden bombs that day, killing four people, police said. The girl was wounded by one of the bombs. She escaped in a rickshaw that she took to a former home in Kano, the girl said. Neighbors saw her and made her go to a hospital. She left the explosive device in the cart, but the driver together with hospital officials recognized the device and alerted authorities. The girl told police that she was forced into being a part of the attack. Boko Haram has terrorized northern Nigeria regularly since 2009, attacking police, schools, churches and civilians, and bombing government buildings. Violence has increased sharply in recent months, just ahead of Nigeria's February 2015 elections. The group has targeted mainstream Islam, saying that it does not represent the interests of Nigeria's 80 million Muslims and that it perverts Islam. In April 2014, Boko Haram militants drew international condemnation when they kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls, many of whom they sold into slavery. At least 5,000 people have died at Boko Haram's hands, according to a U.S. Congressional Research Service report, making it one of the world's deadliest terrorist organizations.