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Female Suicide Bombers Strike in Nigeria

  • Heather Murdock

Security officers patrol the Kano State Polytechnic campus in northern Nigeria, where a female suicide bomber blew herself up, July 30, 2014.

Security officers patrol the Kano State Polytechnic campus in northern Nigeria, where a female suicide bomber blew herself up, July 30, 2014.

College students in the northern Nigerian city of Kano were reading a campus notice board, seeing what post-graduation public service job they would be assigned to, when a girl in their midst blew herself up.

The horrific attack Wednesday at Kano State Polytechnic killed six people and injured at least seven others at the college.

It was the fourth female suicide bombing in northern Nigeria since Sunday, when a 15-year-old blew herself up. Two others did the same on Monday, at a trade show and petrol station. In a separate incident, police arrested a 10-year-old girl wearing a suicide belt.

Boko Haram insurgents are recruiting women and girls for attacks, police spokesman Frank Mbah said. “They take advantage of the fact that women raise fewer suspicions."

Some analysts fear the bombers are not recruits, but instead are among the more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram kidnaped in April from the town of Chibok.

Find the girls, activists say

Activists with Bring Back Our Girls, a group demanding the schoolgirls’ rescue, say the government should be doing more to find them.

"The children are our children and we will continue to fight and we will continue to tell the government and we will continue to talk about it until these children are rescued alive, and within the shortest time period," said Hafsat Babba, an organizer of the group.

Last month, police said a female suicide bomber struck in Lagos, Nigeria's financial capital, far from the war zone. She was the only person killed.

Jibrin Ibrahim, executive director of the Center for Democracy and Development in Abuja, said the Islamist militant insurgency is growing in its reach and capacity for violence. It has left thousands of people dead this year alone.

"The evidence is quite clear that the insurgency is getting worse,” Ibrahim said. “And the capacity of the state to stop the insurgency appears to be declining."

Nigeria needs help from the U.S. and other countries to stop the militants, say analysts such as Moses Ochonu, an associate professor of history at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.

"I think the United States can play the role of putting pressure on the Nigerian government, causing them to do more, but also working with international partners as well to help the Nigerian government to actually optimize its effort in its fight against Boko Haram," Ochonu said.

He said it’s not just the military that needs help but all of northern Nigeria, where jobs and education are in short supply.

Boko Haram, Ochonu said, recruits undereducated young people who lack jobs and believe neither their government nor any other entity cares for them.

Ibrahima Yakubu contributed to this report from Kaduna.

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