By Philip Obaji Jr.
But Boko Haram has now created a new form of attack – bombing with babies.
On Jan. 20, three female suicide bombers blew themselves up, killing at least 11 people and injuring 14 others as they approached a check point where the CJTF screen those entering Madagali.
One of the suicide bombers had a baby on her back, an apparent move to fool security officials into believing that she was a nursing mother and as such, shouldn’t be suspected of being a terrorist.
Witnesses said she was wearing a long hijab, which covered the baby, and in-between her and the child was a bomb, which the infant was resting on.
“She was the first to approach the vigilantes who didn’t suspect her because she was carrying a baby,” a member of the CJTF said. After she scaled through, she stood at a corner waiting for the other girls.”
But the others appeared to be too scared of passing through security as they kept roaming round the checkpoint, reluctant to advance. When men from the CJTF approached them, they detonated their devices, killing a couple of the vigilantes in the process. The first suicide bomber then blew herself and the baby up thereafter.
“She (the suicide bomber carrying a baby) must have envisaged that she would be shot by the soldiers nearby if she didn’t act fast,” the CJTF member said. “It appeared their main target was actually the market close to the check point.”
Using babies to carryout suicide attacks may appear new, but the jihadists have tested this system in the past. Then, it was unsuccessful.
On Nov. 28 precisely, soldiers at a checkpoint in Maiduguri shot a woman suicide bomber carrying a baby on her back. Her explosives detonated as a result of the shot, killing the woman and the baby. Since then, no suicide attack involving a baby has been reported.
Boko Haram from start may have thought of the deception of using babies in the build up to suicide attacks.
When the jihadists began to deploy female suicide bombers, the ladies had bombs tied firmly to their backs in the same manner used by many women to carry their children in northern Nigeria.
In some cases, the women wrapped bombs in thick clothes and placed them on their backs to make it appear as if they were carrying babies behind them.
In October 2015, the Nigerian army published photos of large cluster munitions used by two female suicide bombers in an attack in Cameroun’s northern Kangeleri Mora region, which killed nine people and injured 29 others.
The explosives which appeared to be French-made Belouga bombs are about the size of infants, and were believed to have been placed on the back of the bombers who covered them with their hijab.
“Now that the CJTF is aware of this trick, it is going to be more vigilant,” said Yusuf Mohammed, an advisor to the vigilante group, based in Maiduguri. “No one is going overlook any lady because she is pregnant, or because she is carrying a baby.”