Thursday, July 31, 2014

Nigeria: A Shroud of Horror Descends over Chibok


By Elizabeth Kendal

At 11pm on the night of Sunday 13 April, Boko Haram militants invaded the Christian enclave of Chibok in the south of Borno State, in north-eastern Nigeria. The attack, which lasted until 4am on the Monday morning, culminated in the abduction of around 270 girls who had been boarding at the local Government Girls Secondary School. [For background see Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin (RLPB) 257, 22 April 2014.]

Now a spate of suicide bombings in which the all bombers have been teenage girls has caused a shroud of horror to descend upon the mothers and fathers of the Chibok abductees, who are left to wonder, "Could these be our girls?"

Bombings

Sunday 27 July: KANO (one girl)
A girl estimated to be 15-years of age, blew herself up near a temporary university site. It is alleged she was targeting police; however she killed no-one but herself.

Monday 28 July: KANO (two girls)
A teenage girl joined a queue of women buying kerosene at the petrol station before blowing herself up, killing herself and three others and wounding six. Hours later a girl estimated to be 18-yrs of age blew herself up in a trade show / shopping mall, killing no-one but herself.

Tuesday 29 July: YOBE (two girls)
Two girls entered two mosques in the town of Potiskum, killing thirteen worshippers.

Tuesday 29 July: KATSINA (girl arrested)
Police arrested three suspects, believed to be members of Boko Haram; one of the three was a ten-year-old girl with explosives strapped to her body.

Wednesday 30 July: KANO (one girl)
A teenage girl blew herself up at the Kano Polytechnic, killing six and critically wounding six others. The victims were all students who had gathered to collect their call-up letters for the National Youth Service Corps.

Previously, on 25 June, Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a bombing in Lagos which was also carried out by a female suicide bomber.

New Trend

Nigerians spoken to by Nigerian Tribune wondered why Boko Haram might be using teenage girls as suicide bombers. Some posed the question, "How can we be sure they are not the Chibok girls kidnapped so long ago?"

Former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili tweeted: “this new trend and serial pattern of female suicide bombers surely should particularly worry us. It worries me stiff because of our Chibok girls. Kano again and again. Female suicide bombers again and again - becoming trend. Our Chibok girls still in the enemy den. Are we thinking? Our Chibok girls really need to be rescued from the clutches of evil. We must all not stop praying and demanding that the Federal Government acts for results. We have no apology for being agitated. We have nothing to defend for crying out for their rescue.”

A human rights group has called on the Federal Government to conduct comprehensive forensic test of the corpses of the dead bombers so as to ascertain their identities.

"This," the group told the Tribune, "was to disabuse the minds of observers already insinuating that the female bombers may be from the kidnapped schoolgirls, who might have been hypnotised." Others have expressed fears that the Chibok girls might have been "indoctrinated or coerced" to become suicide bombers.

The fact is, the girls would not need to be hypnotised or indoctrinated. Their captors would only need to assure the girls that there is no escape, and, that if they fail to do as they are told then their mothers and sisters will be raped and their fathers and brothers will be killed. That would be enough to make a young girl kill herself. Islamic militants around the world have been exploiting young girls like this for years. The fact that some girls managed to kill only themselves could indicate that they might actually have been trying quite hard to not kill anyone.

Political blogger Japheth Omojuwa decried the use of young girls as suicide bombers and questioned whether Boko Haram might have simply found a way to save their men for combat.

The Federal Government attempted to douse anxiety on Wednesday by denying, without evidence, that the suicide bombers had anything to do with the Chibok girls. But not everyone is convinced.

As it turns out, the 10-year-old girl arrested strapped with explosives in Katsina State on 29 July, was a Muslim child in the company of her Muslim sister (aged 18) and a male. Personally, I suspect this case is a separate case, unrelated to the others.

The identities of the dead girls must be ascertained by expert forensic testing as soon as possible.

Regardless of who the dead girls were, they were still young girls.

That Islamic fundamentalist militants are willing to use young girls as bombs and human shields only proves that their ideology is not merely morally vacuous, but profoundly evil.

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Elizabeth Kendal is the author of
Turn Back the Battle: Isaiah Speaks to Christians Today 
(Deror Books, Dec 2012).