Last Spring #BringBackOurGirls was all the rage on Twitter. Tens of thousands of people from around the world took pictures of signs bearing the hashtag in an attempt to raise awareness for the 276 school-age girls who had been kidnapped by Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram. Nine months later the issue has since faded into the background but for the girls that were kidnapped and for those who have been kidnapped by Boko Haram since, life continues and it is horrifying beyond words.
Three suicide bombings by girls aged as young as 10 suggest that Nigeria’s Boko Haram has employed a new tactic of forcing abducted children to blow themselves up, according to experts.
The Islamist sect has been carrying out almost daily killings and kidnappings across northeast Nigeria in a campaign of violence now in its sixth year. Deadly attacks on Saturday and Sunday were carried out by three young female suicide bombers.
It is not clear if the girls were coerced or were even aware they were strapped with explosives, which may have been detonated remotely. But experts say that Boko Haram appears to be using the children it kidnaps — such as the 276 Chibok girls who sparked the #BringBackOurGirls social media campaign — and using them as a readily available supply of suicide bombers.
Many have speculated as to what would be the ultimate fate of those girls kidnapped by the group whose leader notoriously boasted that he “enslaves women” and now we know that, at least for some, their fate was to be used as a weapon of war and terror.
Nine months ago there was hope that these girls would be recovered, that their lives would be saved and their futures perhaps preserved. Now we see that will not happen.
I can think of nothing sadder.