At least two people have been killed when a suspected Boko Haram terrorist detonated explosive at a mosque in north-eastern Nigeria. The suicide bomber and a worshipper died in the Dalori village, in the restive Borno state, in the early hours of Tuesday (31 January 2017).
Boko Haram is renowned for kidnapping civilians, mainly women and children, and forcing them to carry out suicide-bombing missions. It is believed that the suicide bomber was aged between eight and 10.
However, a member of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), said the suicide bomber's corpse was too "mangled and shredded" to determine whether it was of a boy or a girl.
"Our role is to evacuate the bodies from the scene which we have done," a spokesperson for NEMA told the Premium Times website.
The Dalori mosque is close to a major Internally Displaced Camp in Borno's capital Maiduguri and the University of Maiduguri, where at least four people were killed earlier this month. Boko Haram's contested leader Abubakar Shekau claimed responsibility for the university attack.
In the clip posted on YouTube, Shekau also denied claims that the army had killed militants in their stronghold in the Sambisa Forest, in Borno. In December, the army claimed it had stormed Boko Haram's last known stronghold in Sambisa.
Who are Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorists?
Boko Haram, which has renamed itself Iswap, fights against Western influence in Nigeria and aims to impose its version of Sharia law throughout occupied territories.
The group launches attacks in Nigeria and neighbouring countries in a bid to take control of more territory. Three Nigerian states − Adamawa, Borno and Yobe − have been under a state of emergency since May 2013.
Boko Haram has killed more than 20,000 people since 2009 and was deemed the world's deadliest terror group, surpassing Islamic State in November 2015. Nigeria has also become the world's third-most terrorised country as a result of the group's violent insurgency.
Following the army's claim, President Muhammadu Buhari said the terrorists were "on the run, and no longer have a place to hide". He added that the recapture of the so-called 'Camp Zero' in Sambisa marked the "final crushing of Boko Haram terrorists in their last enclave".
Is the fight against Boko Haram over?
Boko Haram used to control territories the size of Belgium. However, Nigeria's ongoing military operation, LafiyaDole, 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.
Security analysts have pointed out that declaring a victory over the group is premature, given that BokoHaram is still able to carry out attacks and recruit people. Experts also warned that underlying issues such as disenfranchisement, poverty and strong links with Islamic State (Isis/Daesh) would continue to pose major threats to stability in the region.