A teenage girl who surrendered during a suicide bombing mission in Nigeria has said the Boko Haram terror group chose her for the planned attack after she turned down three marriage proposals by militants. The 14-year-old, whose identity was not disclosed, was arrested along three other suspects on Sunday (14 May).
The girl was arrested as she tried to carry out an attack at a military facility in Maiduguri, capital of restive Borno state.
"Three different Boko Haram [terrorists] had proposed to marry me and I refused. Two among them were commanders," the girl told News Agency of Nigeria (NAN). She added Boko Haram had held her captive for four years after kidnapping her and her father from Gwoza town, on the border with Cameroon, in 2013.
"When I refused for the third time, one of the commanders became furious and threatened to kill me and my father. I told him I would rather die than marry a Boko Haram [terrorist]," the girl said. "So, after one week, they said since I have refused to get married, I should be taken to Maiduguri for a suicide mission."
The girl claimed she was drugged before the mission .
"I was watching when the first bomber, a female, detonated her explosive close to a military checkpoint which killed no one but herself. The second, a male, was killed by the military before he could detonate his," she explained. "At that time something told me to remove my own IED [Improvised Explosive Device] and surrender which I did. I was surrounded by soldiers and policemen and I fainted."
Boko Haram fights against Western influence in Nigeria and aims to impose its version of Sharia law throughout occupied territories. The Islamist outfit, affiliated to the Isis terror group, is renowned for kidnapping civilians, particularly women and children, and forcing them to carry out suicide bombing missions.
Those freed were part of a group of more than 200 schoolgirls kidnapped from the Chibok village, in Borno, in April 2014.
Although the Chibok abduction was not the first mass-kidnapping carried out by Boko Haram, it was the only one that attracted international outrage. It led to the creation of the global movement Bring Back Our Girls, which shone a spotlight on the deadly insurgency of Boko Haram that had previously been underreported.
The United Nations says at least 20,000 people have died in Nigeria and neighbouring states since the Boko Haram insurgency became violent in 2009. The conflict has also displaced at least 2.1 million people.
The group used to control territories the size of Belgium. However, Nigeria's ongoing military operation, Lafiya Dole, and a regional offensive – consisting of 8,700 troops from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin – have scored some success, with soldiers recapturing key territories and releasing thousands of civilians held captive by the group.
However, on 13 May, a purported Boko Haram fighter was reported to have released a video claiming that the militant group has been planning to carry out several bomb attacks in the Nigerian capital, Abuja.