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Suicide Bomber Described As 'Small Girl' Behind Latest Deadly Blast In Nigeria

Witnesses reportedly said a girl who killed herself and at least five others in an attack on a market in northeastern Nigeria could not have been more than eight years old.
February 22, 2015, 6:49pm
Photo by Lekan Oyekanmi/AP

A young girl killed herself and at least five others in a suicide bombing Sunday at a market in northeastern Nigeria.

The bomber, described as a "small girl" who could not have been more than eight years old, entered the market in the town of Potiskum with explosives strapped to her chest, Reuters reported.

"She refused to be checked at the gate to the market and an argument ensued," witness Ibrahim Maishago told Reuters. "She let off the bomb, killing herself and five others, while many were injured."


Buba Lawan, another local, told AFP he saw multiple people rushed to the hospital in the wake of the attack.

"So far, five people have been killed with the girl while 19 others have been taken to the hospital for injuries," Lawan reportedly said.

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No one immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion, but it followed the pattern of attacks by the militant group Boko Haram, which has become notorious for its use of children in suicide bombings.

Boko Haram also used suicide bombers in early January to attack the same Potiskum market, where new and used phones are sold and repaired. Two suicide bombers, including one who looked about 15 years old, blew themselves up outside the market, killing six people and injuring 37, AFP reported.

Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of people in its six-year insurgency in Nigeria, has also spread into the neighboring nations of Niger, Chad and Cameroon, but in recent weeks the countries have won battles against the group.

Nigerian officials told Al Jazeera Sunday they had retaken Baga, a Boko Haram stronghold where the militants had killed scores of people in a January attack. Nigeria's presidential elections have been delayed six weeks, to the end of March, as the nation focuses on fighting Boko Haram's insurgency.

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"We are not saying we must finish Boko Haram in order to conduct elections, but we should get to a point where they will not cause havoc if they make an attempt," President Goodluck Jonathan said earlier this week.

Elsewhere in the region, Boko Haram launched an attack that killed dozens of people Saturday on the Niger side of Lake Chad, Reuters reported. The army ultimately repelled the invasion, but the Lake Chad area in general is still considered a hot spot for the extremists.

Follow Meredith Hoffman on Twitter: @merhoffman