Accessibility links

Breaking News

Nigerian Suicide Bombing by Girl Kills 5

A young girl killed herself and five others Sunday in the latest suicide bombing in the restive northeastern part of Nigeria, where government troops are battling insurgents from the Islamist extremist group Boko Haram.

Witnesses described the girl as being no more than 8 years old and said she set off the bomb at a checkpoint at a market in Potiskum where phones are sold and repaired.

Authorities said at least 19 people were injured in the blast.

No one claimed responsibility for the bombing, but it bore the hallmarks of a Boko Haram attack. The insurgent group has frequently used young female suicide bombers in the past year.

The militants have suffered defeats in a campaign led by Nigeria and its neighbors, Cameroon, Niger and Chad.

But the continuing violence recently forced Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan to postpone the country's presidential and parliamentary elections for six weeks until March 28.

Underestimated Boko Haram

In an interview published Sunday in the ThisDay newspaper, the Nigerian leader acknowledged he and his government underestimated the strength of Boko Haram.

"Probably at the beginning, we, and I mean myself and the team, we underrated the capacity of Boko Haram," Jonathan said.

He said his military has recently secured more weapons and ammunition to fight Boko Haram. He vowed to soon suppress the insurgents and, "God willing," capture its leader, Abubakar Shekau, before the election.

On Saturday, Nigeria's military said it reclaimed a strategic border town from Boko Haram.

Military spokesman Chris Olukolade said the government troops, backed by airstrikes, took control of the garrison town of Baga after a fierce battle late Friday.

Baga was the site of a horrific massacre of villagers at Boko Haram's hands early this year, with an estimate of as many as 2,000 dead.

It is located on a major supply route at the borders of Nigeria, Chad, Niger, and Cameroon, had been in the hands of the Islamist militants since the attack in early January. Many residents of the area have fled for their lives.

Boko Haram, whose name means "Western education is forbidden," has killed thousands of Nigerians in the past five years in attacks on schools, towns, markets, churches, mosques and various government targets.

It has expanded its deadly campaign to gain territory for an Islamic state into other countries in the region.