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Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 21 June 2018

Boko Haram killings double as extremists increase use of suicide bombers

The Islamic extremist group is sending women and girls into crowded areas with explosives

Boko Haram militants have been using female suicide bombers to kill civilians in Cameroon and Nigeria. Zanah Mustapha / Reuters
Boko Haram militants have been using female suicide bombers to kill civilians in Cameroon and Nigeria. Zanah Mustapha / Reuters

Killings in Cameroon and Nigeria by the Islamic extremist group Boko Haram have doubled in the last five months, a report by human rights’ charity Amnesty International has revealed.

At least 381 civilians have died at the hands of the group since April, with the spike in deaths being blamed on an increased use of suicide bombers.

Amnesty said Boko Haram often used women and girls as suicide bombers, forcing them to carry explosives into crowded areas.

“Boko Haram is once again committing war crimes on a huge scale, exemplified by the depravity of forcing young girls to carry explosives with the sole intention of killing as many people as they possibly can,” said Alioune Tine, Amnesty International’s Director for West and Central Africa.

“This wave of shocking Boko Haram violence, propelled by a sharp rise in suicide bombings, highlights the urgent need for protection and assistance for millions of civilians in the Lake Chad region.

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“Governments in Nigeria, Cameroon and beyond must take swift action to protect them from this campaign of terror.”

Increased attacks in the Far North region of Cameroon, where the jihadists had killed 158 civilians since April, may be due to the displacement of Boko Haram fighters from the Sambisa Forest in Nigeria to the Mandara Mountains in Cameroon after operations conducted by the Nigerian military.

In the Lake Chad region in Nigeria, where many people have been killed by the militants, millions of civilians are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance, Amnesty said.

“Governments across the Lake Chad region must increase their efforts to protect the hundreds of thousands of civilians at grave risk of being targeted by Boko Haram violence, abductions and abuses,” Mr Tine added.

“Meanwhile, the international community should also rapidly scale up its commitment to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to the millions in the region who need it.”

Boko Haram’s current insurgency, which began in 2009, has killed tens of thousands of people and left 2.3 million displaced.