Girl suicide bomber, aged seven, kills five in Nigerian attack
A girl thought to be as young as seven has blown herself up in a busy Nigerian market, killing five people along with herself and wounding dozens more.
The girl was reported to have been turned away from a security checkpoint at the entrance to a mobile phone market in Potiskum, the commercial capital of northeastern Yobe State, on Sunday, but she returned and ducked under a rope before the explosives strapped to her body detonated.
The attack came as the Nigerian military hailed a significant victory in retaking the town of Baga, captured by Boko Haram just after the new year with the loss of up to 2,000 lives.
Meanwhile, the country's president Goodluck Jonathan admitted that his government had "underrated" the terrorist group's capabilities but said it was confident of bringing the group to heel, ahead of delayed presidential and parliamentary elections on March 28.
"We are not saying we must finish Boko Haram to conduct elections, but we should get to a point where they will not cause havoc if they make an attempt," he said.
"My belief is that by the 28th of next month, when the elections will be conducted, Boko Haram may not even be in a position to attack any town, God willing."
No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing in Potiskum yet, but previous attacks have been blamed on Boko Haram.
The group has warned that it will use children as combatants and released pictures of young boys training with AK47 assault rifles. The Potiskum attack was the second this year. On January 11, two suicide bombers, one as young as 15, blew themselves up outside the market killing six people and injuring 37 others.
Buba Lawan, the local leader of a civilian protection force, said suspicious security guards had tried to stop the latest bomber.
"We sent her back four times, because given her age, she did not have anything to do in the market," he said.
"When we were screening people, she bent and tried to pass under the ropes, some distance from our view. That was when the explosives went off."
Meanwhile, Gordon Brown, the former British Prime Minister, issued a renewed appeal for the release of 220 girls kidnapped by Boko Haram from Chibok, in northern Nigeria, last April, after the group released 158 women and children taken during a separate raid. Meanwhile, a new group releasing propaganda for Boko Haram denied a Ministry of Defence statement that troops seized back the border garrison town of Baga.
It comes amid reports that military from Nigeria and neighbouring Chad are retaking towns and villages held for months by Boko Haram, even as the extremists attack other northeastern communities. Scores of civilians have been killed in such attacks in recent days.
Baga is still under the control of the mujahedeen and any claim by the regime that they took the city is "their usual lie", said a brief message posted on the Twitter account of Al-Urwa Al-Wuthqa, according to the SITE intelligence monitoring service.
Media were trying to verify the situation in Baga, a town on Lake Chad and the border with Cameroon, where the extremists are accused of killing hundreds of people in a January attack after Nigerian troops fled.
The government hopes the military will be able to reclaim enough territory to allow presidential elections on March 28, which Boko Haram is threatening to disrupt. (© Daily Telegraph, London)